Thursday, June 11, 2020

Alien spaceships: The rad spikelets of Calamagrostis acutiflora

One of the most productive and vigorous ornamentals I have is what I take to be a cultivar of  Calamagrostis acutiflora, most probably 'Karl Foerster'.

This grass is a strong performer in my home, and I have had to divide it every Spring due to its vigorous growth.

I know some people love it, and it does make a good specimen, but I was never impressed by its inflorescence, even when dried...until I took macro shots of it.

When I noticed that one of the larger specimens was flowering, I decided I'd take the time to see what the spikelets looked like close up, and I have to admit I was kinda impressed by them.

The glumes glistened with various shades of purple violet, and their sharp stream-lined shapes reminded me of deadly fighters in space. It was an altogether surprising find, especially when contrasted with the somewhat dull brownish color of the entire inflorescence when seen with the naked eye.

Unfortunately, the effect was somewhat ruined once anthesis arrived, and the white anthers drooped from the spikelets. Unlike in some other grasses that I've seen, the overall effect of the whitish stamens and stigmas draped against the hard-looking glumes was one of disorder.

In Calamagrostis, each spikelet contains a single floret, and in some of the shots I took it was easy to see the feather-like stigma poking out below the much longer anthers on their long white filaments (see below).

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