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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Grass Flower

Who says grasses aren't colourful. This Meadow Foxtail is showing the lovely purple anthers and their attachment by a delicate filament, allowing them to vibrate in the wind and shed pollen.

Before this event the whole of the grass 'flower' envelope is tightly shut. At the base of this envelope of protective outer and inner scales are another 2 tiny scales (lodicules) which are attached to the ovary.

These Lodicules become turgid and expand, generating the considerable force needed to prise apart the outer scales, which allows the anthers and stigmas to emerge. Many grass species have their own time of day allotted for this to happen.

Anyone trying to 'name' the grasses will realise how different they look before the inflorescence is open.

The expanding of the individual florets is determined by the amount of light and when this is adequate the floret can open and exert anthers in just a few minutes. Mechanical disturbance can also initiate this and perhaps the grass is programmed to 'know' it might be windy enough to spread pollen.

Meadow Foxtail was probably the first forage species to be sown in Britain and prizes offered for quality as early as 1766.


      Illustration below is highly enlarged and a representation of one flower structure. Meadow Foxtail (above) has innumerable of these.

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