|Spikelets of Schizachyrium scoparium|
A warm season grass of course refers to a species which reaches its optimal growing rate when the season temperatures are high, normally during mid-Summer. Cold season grasses on the other hand tend to grow fast and flower earlier in the season.
Interestingly enough, the difference between these two groups lies in the way they photosynthesize.
Warm season grasses have C4 photosynthesis, wherein the first carbon compound produced during the process has 4 carbons, whereas cool season grasses have C3 photosynthesis, in which a 3-carbon compound is the initial product.
C4 grasses are much more productive in photosynthesis during hot and dry conditions. So just when C3 cool season grasses start to slow down because of the heat of summer, C4 grasses start revving up their engines.
|Flowering spike of Schizachyrium scoparium|
I've always liked S. scoparium, ever since I saw fields of this species on a trip to New Hampshire, and its inflorescence is quite distinctive and beautiful to my eyes.
|Spikelets of Panicum virgatum 'Northwind';|
Go, go C4s! ;-)
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