Leaves of Grass

Poking around in the back lot I found a couple of grassy visitors.

The first one is in the same genus as the famous Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa praetensis). It is called Bulbous Bluegrass (Poa bulbosa) and looks like this:

https://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+0411+0213

Like its more famous cousin Poa bulbosa is not native to North America. Despite that it is widespread and found all over the West. It is perennial, has a high drought tolerance, and produces a lot of seed, but is not a particularly good forage crop.

The other species I identified goes by the rather curious name of Ripgut Brome (Bromus diandrus). It looks like this:

https://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+1104+0339

Bromus diandrus is also an introduced grass and widespread in the West. It is an annual and the young plants apparently provide good forage but the mature plant has stiff bristles (“awns”) that can irritate livestock. There are a large number of bromes or bromegrasses (genus Bromus) in the temperate regions of the world. California has a native variety called, appropriately, California Brome (Bromus carinatus).

My botanic investigations were aided by the “Field Guide to Common California Rangeland and Pasture Plants” put out by UC ANR (University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources). Here’s what that looks like:

You can download a free .pdf copy of the guide from here. I used to think identifying grasses was next to impossible. Flowers and trees are much easier, but grasses are certainly do-able.

There are a whole bunch of other invaders and even a few natives in the jumble of weeds and ground covers that currently over-run the back lot. If I identify any of them I’ll let you know!

The photos of the plants are from CalPhotos at UC Berkeley.

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