Saturday, May 9, 2020

A very rare flowering of Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica)

I was watering some grass seedlings yesterday when I happened to glance at a stand of Japanese Blood Grass (aka Cogongrass) that I had planted by the side of my home, and the brief look made me do a double take.

The leaves of this ornamental grass are gorgeous, but this time something else caught my eye. Poking out from the red-tinged leaves were inflorescence spikes of an arresting purple color!

Purple two-lobed anthers crowd on the spike surface.

I talked earlier about how Japanese Blood Grass is simply a smaller form of the invasive Cogongrass, and about how it is not  a real threat in certain areas because it is slower growing and sterile. It also almost never flowers, and the fact that some of my own specimens had actually produced these beautiful purple spikes filled me with amazement.

There were a total of three (3) spikes protruding out of the massed leaves, at different stages of development. Each spike was around 9-10 cm in height, with a profusion of stamens and some pistils on its surface.

The filaments of each stamen was pure white, and at the end of each was a two-lobed anther that was an arresting purple color. Filamentous purple pistils could also be seen among the masses of stamens.

A less mature spike hides among the dense foliage.

One of the spikes was more mature, with the stamens and pistils fully extended out from the surface, but the two others were still developing.

Purple pistils are on the left side of the spike above, looking like fuzzy caterpillars.

However, the spikes seem to develop quickly. We had a very cold spell during the night (all the way down to 2 degrees Celsius), and by the next day (today) the more mature spike had seemingly dried up and become brown, while the two other spikes had almost fully matured.

One of the fast-developing spikes today.

I took macro shot of all the spikes, which was not easy given how short JBG grows. But I knew that I had better make the most of this fantastic opportunity, because who knows when the grass would flower again? 

The second fast-developing spike today.

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