Thursday, November 5, 2020

The beauty of grass flowers

Pennisetum setaceum

Grasses have almost always been relegated to the bottom of the pack when people marvel over the beauty of a plant's flowers, or the magnificence of its leaves. Indeed, many botanical blogs and youtube videos seem to gloss over the presence of members of this most important plant family. In one particular video, the host focused exclusively over some minor forbs, while all around him the gorgeous reddish hued stems of Schizachyrium scoparium waved in the gentle breeze!

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

This is mostly because the inflorescence of grasses have no sepals or petals, and the flowers themselves are mostly minute and specialized for wind pollination. They are thus easy to ignore in the presence of plants with much larger flowers or large complex leaves.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

Nevertheless, many grasses are simply stunning when someone takes the time to really appreciate their beauty through the lens of a camera. Examples of this hidden beauty can be seen in some of the macro shots I have taken of the inflorescence of various grasses.  

Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats)

Witness the purple-hued Pennisetum setaceum, or the gorgeously attired spikelets of Schizachyrium scoparium, whose reddish anthers and stigma dangle from tightly closed glumes. 

Hordeum jubatum (Foxtail Barley)

Or stare in astonishment at the purplish inflorescence of Hordeum jubatum, which looks like the tail of some fanciful faerie tale creature, while the attractive white flowers of Phalaris arundinacea welcomes the visits of enthusiastic hoverflies

Phalaris arundinacea

And what can anyone do but marvel at the strange spikelets of Calamagrostis acutiflora, which look like futuristic streamlined spaceships! ;-)

Calamagrostis acutiflora

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