Three Grasses and a Bulrush

by Carl Strang

Grasses are starting to flower at Mayslake Forest Preserve, and so I am expanding my study of such plants beyond the sedges. After the meadow foxtail I mentioned earlier, the next species was the abundant Kentucky bluegrass.

This European grass occurs not only in Mayslake’s lawns and trails, but also in meadows and even the savannas.

Orchard grass soon followed.

The clumps of flower clusters are distinctive in this species, which typically occurs in somewhat shady places.

Last week, reed canary grass, also European but much less welcome because of its aggressive invasive quality, began to bloom.

A study found that strains of this grass brought to North America from different locations in Europe have hybridized to produce its problematic vigor.

It’s not all grasses, however. I continue to watch for new sedges, and also found this clump of a large bulrush at the edge of the stream.

The plant is taking advantage of a sunny stretch from which the woody brush has been removed by Mayslake’s restoration group.

I needed to wait for flowering. It appears to be the great bulrush.

As in the sedges and grasses, flowers of the bulrush are organized into units called spikelets.

As long as these plants bloom in a trickle I’ll be able to keep up, but I’m concerned that there may be a flood of species soon.

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1 Comment

  1. June 20, 2011 at 5:39 am

    […] Looking back, I can see that I learned a lot from this grass, but only after much frustration, quitting at least three times and stubbornly going back for more. I found that it had a tuft of cobwebby hairs buried inside the flower, pointing to Poa as the genus, but that tuft was very small compared to the obvious one in Kentucky bluegrass, which I had identified earlier. […]


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