Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It's just there

Bread. Candy canes. Hats. Tacos and birds' nests. Beer and baskets.  Paper, sometimes; also some roofs. Rum and bamboo bicycles. Breakfast cereal. Sushi. Place mats. And so on, and so on. They're all made from grass.

Dune grass, Oyster Bay Shoreline Park

We're grass eaters. The bulk of our food is either grass, or relies on grass in the form of animal feed.

"Grasses now provide us with 3 times more food than do peas and beans, tubers, fruit, meat, milk and eggs put together." (Plants of Coastal BC)

And yet, we - I - mostly ignore the grasses. It's "just grass". A mistake.

Dune grass and unidentified grass, Oyster Bay.

The checklist for plants of Oyster Bay Shoreline Park includes 24 different species of grass, of over 200 species in coastal BC. That's a lot of missed beauty. I've started to pay attention, finally.

One of the Bromes. Cheatgrass, maybe.

The grasses are flowering plants, but the miniature flowers are hidden under an arrangement of bracts and awns. To understand what the guide tells us, we need a new vocabulary: the bract that covers the flower is called a "lemma": two more bracts, beneath the floret, are called "glumes". The whole contraption: glumes, lemma, flower, inner bract, and awn: makes up a spikelet. A bunch of spikelets makes an inflorescence.

Each type of grass has a different arrangement of these parts. It's complicated.


I think this is one of the vernal grasses.

I am going to try to photograph and identify as many of the grasses of the park as possible. Any help with identifications (and all corrections) will be vastly appreciated.

I couldn't identify this one. It's a small grass. (That's my finger at the bottom left.)


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