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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Cladus: Commelinids
Ordo: Poales

Familia: Poaceae
Subfamilia: Pooideae
Tribus: Festuceae
Subtribus: Dactylidinae
Genus: Dactylis
Species: D. glomerata – D. smithii

Dactylis L., Sp. Pl. 1: 71 (1753)
Type species: Dactylis glomerata L., Sp. Pl.: 71 (1753)


Dactilis Neck., Delic. Gallo-Belg. 1: 58 (1768)
Trachypoa Bubani, Fl. Pyren. 4: 359 (1901), nom. superfl.


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 71.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2013. Dactylis in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2013 Dec. 11. Reference page.
Simon, B.K., Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T., Vorontsova, M., Brake, I., Healy, D. & Alfonso, Y. 2013. GrassWorld, Dactylis. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2013 Dec. 11. 2013. Dactylis. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2013 Dec. 11.
International Plant Names Index. 2013. Dactylis. Published online. Accessed: 11 Dec. 2013.
Dactylis at the Euro+Med PlantBase

Vernacular names
English: Cocksfoot or Orchard Grass
suomi: Koiranheinät
македонски: Ежовка
русский: Ежа

Dactylis is a genus of Eurasian and North African plants in the bluegrass subfamily within the grass family.[3][4] Dactylis is native to North Africa, they are found throughout the world, and are an invasive species.[5] They are known in English as cock's-foot or cocksfoot grasses, also sometimes as orchard grasses.


The genus has been treated as containing only a single species Dactylis glomerata by many authors, treating variation in the genus at only subspecific rank within D. glomerata,[6][7][8] but more recently, there has been a trend to accept two species,[9] while some authors accept even more species in the genus, particularly island endemic species in Macaronesia.[10][11][12][13]

Dactylis species are perennial grasses, forming dense tussocks growing to 15–140 centimetres tall, with leaves 20–50 cm long and up to 1.5 cm broad, and distinctive tufted triangular flowerheads comprising a panicle 10–15 cm long, turning pale grey-brown at seed maturity. The spikelets are 5–9 mm long, typically containing two to five flowers. The stems have a flattened base, which distinguishes them from many other grasses.[7][14][15][16]

Accepted species[2]

Dactylis glomerata L. - Eurasia and North Africa; naturalized in southern Africa, Australia, the Americas, and various oceanic islands
Dactylis smithii Link - Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira

Formerly included[2]

Many species now considered better suited to other genera: Aeluropus Ammochloa Cutandia Desmostachya Dinebra Elytrophorus Eragrostis Festuca Koeleria Odyssea Poa Rostraria Schismus Spartina Tribolium Trisetaria Wangenheimia

Dactylis fasciculata Lam. - now Spartina alterniflora
Dactylis maritima Walter - now Spartina alterniflora


Dactylis is most commonly known as orchard grass. Orchard grasses are suited for habitats like waste lands and meadows.[17] These grasses are able to grow in dry and mildly wet areas. [17] They are a food source for many species of insects and birds. The insect and animals consume the grass's the seeds, leaves, and roots. [18] Dactylis, orchard grass, supports meadow ecosystems by feeding many insects and birds that dominate the areas; these species include: beetles, grasshoppers, larvae, caterpillars, sparrows, and horned larks. [18] Snakes, small mammals, and insects also use orchard grass as a means of shelter and stealth through grass lands. [18]

The taxa show several different levels of polyploidy. The taxa show three levels of polyploidy, including tetraploid, diploid, and hexaploidy.[19] Dactylis glomerata subsp. glomerata and D. glomerata subsp. hispanica are tetraploid forms with 28 chromosomes. Several of the other taxa, including D. glomerata. subsp. himalayensis (syn. D. himalayensis), D. glomerata subsp. lobata (syn. D. polygama), D. metlesicsii, and some forms of D. smithii, are diploid with 2n = 14; hexaploids with 42 chromosomes also occur rarely.[7][11][20] Dactylis are reproductively able to produce natural triploid and pentaploid.[21] This occurs in habitats of large populations of diploid and tetraploid Dactylis showing one way gene flow. [21]

"Dactylis". NCBI taxonomy. Bethesda, MD: National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 71. in Latin
Tropicos, Dactylis L.
"Orchard grass | plant". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
Flora Europaea: Dactylis glomerata Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
Flora of China Town: Dactylis
Wetschnig, W. (1991). Karyotype morphology of some diploid subspecies of Dactylis glomerata L. (Poaceae). Phyton (Horn, Austria) 31 (1): 35-55 fulltext
Germplasm Resources Information Network: Species Records of Dactylis, Dactylis glomerata.
Parker, P. F. (1972). Studies in Dactylis II. Natural variation, distribution and systematics of the Dactylis smithii Link. complex in Madeira and other Atlantic islands. New Phytologist fulltext
Schönfelder, P., & Ludwig, D. (1996). Dactylis metlesicsii (Poaceae), eine neue Art der Gebirgsvegetation von Tenerife, Kanarische Inseln. Willdenowia 26 (1–2): 217–223. Full text Archived 2011-06-15 at the Wayback Machine
Banco de Datos de Biodiversidad de Canarios Lista de especies silvestres de Canarias: hongos, plantas y animales terrestres Archived 2011-04-10 at the Wayback Machine
Flora of Pakistan: Dactylis
Kew GrassBase: Dactylis
Interactive Flora of NW Europe Dactylis glomerata (Cock's-foot)[permanent dead link]
FAO factsheet: Dactylis glomerata
"Dactylis glomerata Cock's Foot, Orchardgrass, Ascherson's orchardgrass PFAF Plant Database". Retrieved 2021-04-13.
"Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata)". Retrieved 2021-04-13.
"Evolution and Genetic Resources in Cocksfoot". Developments in Plant Genetics and Breeding. 2: 379–397. 1991-01-01. doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-88260-8.50025-2. ISSN 0168-7972.
Míka, V., Kohoutek, A., & Odstrèilová, V. (2002). Characteristics of important diploid and tetraploid subspecies of Dactylis from point of view of the forage crop production. Rostlinná Výroba 48 (6): 243–248. Full text Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
Zohary, Daniel; Nur, Uzi (1959). "Natural Triploids in the Orchard Grass, Dactylis glomerata L., Polyploid Complex and Their Significance for Gene Flow From Diploid to Tetraploid Levels". Evolution. 13 (3): 311–317. doi:10.2307/2406108. ISSN 0014-3820. JSTOR 2406108.

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