Naturalized grasslands contain many plant species all more or less adapted to the local environment. Each species in a pasture or field has a set of environment conditions that it is best adapted to. Environmental conditions include: sunlight intensity and day-length, daily maximum and minimum temperature, rainfall, soil drainage and rooting depth, soil pH and fertility, and defoliation frequency and intensity. Weather and management of the site will determine which plant species dominate the stand in a given year and over time. Knowing the major plant species in a grassland enables the manager to properly manage that grassland for pasture or hay.
The following fact sheets and web links provide an introduction for identifying the major plant species that grow in pastures and hay fields in West Virginia.
Identification of Grasses by Their Vegetative Characters
100 Native Forage Grasses in Southern States
Many of these native grasses are found in West Virginia.
Annual Ryegrass Univ. MD
Tall Fescue Management
Annual Lespedezas, Culture and Use.
This is an older USDA bulletin that provides basic information not readily available elsewhere.
Crimson Clover Case Study in West Virginia
Orchardgrass; Bulletin 557T
Timothy; Bulletin 570T
Smooth Bromegrass; Bulletin 554T
Reed Canarygrass; Bulletin 550T
Life history of quackgrass
Life history of crabgrass
Life history of foxtail
Life history of horse nettle