Grasses

Have you ever really looked at a grass plant? Did you know there are different kinds of grasses?

To help you begin, look at some of the pictures of grasses on the Digital Flora of Texas page. Do any of these look like grasses you find? Ohio State University has some full color photos of some common grasses on their Forage ID site. 

Grass flowers are small. They use wind to blow their pollen to other grass plants. They don't have to be large and pretty to get insects to visit and move pollen. Do you know anyone who gets hayfever from pollen blowing around in the air?

Many naturalists (people interested in learning about local plants and animals) don't know too much about grasses because the parts of a grass plant are small and have names all their own. If you can get a magnifying glass or have good eyesight, see if you can look at a tall grass plant which has the flowers or seeds at the top and see some of the parts of the leaves and flowers. 

You don't have to identify grasses to enjoy them. Look at fields and roadsides around home or as you travel. How many different looking grasses can you find? How tall is the tallest grass plant you can find? Can you find any insects or spiders on grass plants? Try drawing a tall grass plant. Can you find some grasses which are beautiful? Can you find a whole hillside covered with grasses and watch it on a breezy day? Is it beautiful? Look in a bookstore or library for Lauren Brown's book, Grasses, An Identification Guide, which helps people identify grasses and grass-like plants without learning technical names for things and also shows how beautiful grasses can be.

Did you know that some of the most important plants in the world for human food are grasses? Rice, corn, wheat, rye, oats and barley are all crops which are grasses. So is bamboo, an important building material in some parts of the world. Make a list of what you ate yesterday. How many of these foods contained grass seeds? How can you find out? Remember, many animals eat grasses too. The beef in a hamburger probably came from a steer which ate grass; every glass of milk comes from grass-eating cows.
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