Introduced, warm-season, perennial herb, to 45 cm tall and with a deep taproot. Leaves are rosette forming, 8-20 cm long, with entire margins and strong parallel veins. Flowerheads are dense spikes (1-12 cm long) on the end of ridged, unbranched stems. Flowering is from spring to autumn. A native of Europe and northern and central Asia, there are both naturalized and sown types. Naturalized types are more common in disturbed or rundown areas, such as roadsides or low fertility pastures. Sown varieties will tolerate relatively low fertility, acidic soils. Naturalized (or wild) types may be considered weeds as they are unpalatable, low growing and can exclude more desirable species in rundown pastures; also a weed of cropping. Best controlled by vigorous pastures, so that they are shaded and forced to grow vertically and so can be more readily grazed by stock. Sown varieties have been selected for palatability, high quality and larger erect growth. They are very quick to produce green feed in summer. Best sown in a paddock free of broadleaf weeds. Tolerance to set stocking will depend on which variety is sown – some are very tolerant. They respond to increased fertility, especially nitrogen.
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