Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
General: Grass Family (Poaceae). Ventenata is a winter annual that germinates in the fall when temperatures are moderate to high (18º - 28º C, or 64° - 82° F) (Northam & Callihan, 1986). Seed heads are produced May through June, about one month following annual Bromus species. The plant has slim, erect culms from 10 to 46 cm (4 to 18 in) tall with microscopic hairs that give the appearance of being smooth. Seedling leaves are in-rolled or lengthwise folded and appear very narrow. The inflorescence is an open panicle, appearing silvery green but rapidly maturing to a yellowish-tan color. At the end of each spreading to drooping rachilla are 1-5 spikelets. About 15 – 35 seeds are produced per plant (Lass & Prather, 2007). Ventenata was named after a professor of botany at Paris, Pierre Etienne Ventenat, 1757-1805 (Hitchcock & Cronquist, 1973).
Ventenata is beginning to replace perennial grasses and forbs along roadsides and in hay, pasture, range and CRP fields in the western U.S. In addition to having minimal forage value for livestock or wildlife, ventenata is also undesirable because its shallow root system may cause the soil to be more prone to erosion. Over time, decline of productivity and land value occurs.
Key characteristics: Ventenata can be easily identified in May – June based on its reddish-black nodes. Its unusually long ligule (1-8 mm) is another distinguishing characteristic. By late June - July the plant adopts a shiny appearance and an open panicle emerges. Once the plant senesces in July - August, the awns (1 – 2.5 mm in length) become twisted and bent, which is typical of members of the Aveneae tribe.
Pamela Scheinost, USDA NRCS Pullman Plant Materials Center