Darnel Ryegrass Plant Information
Darnel Ryegrass grows in the following 43 states:Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, Oregon, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington
Lolium temulentum, typically known as darnel, poison darnel, darnel ryegrass or cockle, is an annual plant that forms part of the Poaceae family and part of the Lolium genus. The plant stem can grow up to one meter tall, with inflorescence in the ears and purple grain. It has a global distribution.
Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as "false wheat". It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The spikes of L. temulentum are more slender than those of wheat. The spikelets are oriented edgeways to the rachis and have only a single glume, while those of wheat are oriented with the flat side to the rachis and have two glumes. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black.
Darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus of the genus Neotyphodium, and the endophyte-produced, insecticidal loline alkaloids were first isolated from this plant. The French word for darnel is ivraie (from Latin ebriacus, intoxicated), which expresses the drunken nausea from eating the infected plant, which can be fatal. The French name echoes the scientific name, Latin temulentus "drunk."
The plant is mentioned in Horace's Satire 2.6 (eaten by the Country mouse while he serves his guest fancier foods) and may have been the plant in the Parable of the Tares in the Gospel of Matthew:
Darnel is also mentioned as a weed in Shakespeare's King Lear, and is one of the many ingredients in Mithradate, which Mithridates VI is supposed to have used every day to render him immune to poisoning.
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