Mid-Summer Grasses and Bulrushes

by Carl Strang

Newly flowering grasses, sedges, and rushes are appearing less frequently at Mayslake Forest Preserve as we move away from spring. Also, the proportion of native grasses is increasing.

Switch grass was the first of the typical prairie tall grasses to bloom this year.

Two species of wild rye have flowered so far.

The Virginia wild rye grows in somewhat shaded areas.

Another species, the Canada wild rye, commonly occurs in more open locations.

Note the droop in the flower heads, characteristic of this species.

Barnyard grass has striking purple flowers in a spiky array.

This species occurs in more weedy situations.

Two added species of bulrushes brought the preserve’s species count to four.

Scirpus cyperinus, known as wool grass, is an impressive tall bunched bulrush. Up close, the flowers appear white-tinged.

The dark brown, spherical clusters of dark green rush spikelets are distinctive.

The bulrushes I have seen so far are visually very different from one another.

Though new species are slowing their appearance, there are more to come.


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