Wool Grass in Winter

by Carl Strang

Sometimes winter botany is challenging, but not always. Last year I put some effort into learning to recognize the more common grasses, sedges and rushes at Mayslake Forest Preserve. On Friday I spent some time seeing what was still recognizable in late winter. Many were, to my eye, a matted uniform carpet of flattened brown leaf blades, but a few stood out. One of these was wool grass.

“Wool grass” is not in fact a grass, but one of the bulrushes.

Even the fruiting head retained much of its structure.

Some winter plants qualify as sculpture, as “found art.”

When I found this plant last summer, it impressed me.

For one thing, it towered above the other plants in its vicinity.

The flower heads were complex, and white mixed with green added interest.

You can see how the winter version in the above photo still reflects this structure.

I had hoped to do more winter plant photography this year, but the way it is going I will have to wait for another, snowier year.

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