Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Grasses in Bloom...?

Grass plants are prized for their wonderful variety of textures, forms, and colors. But their flowers? Not so much. Grasses are wind pollinated; no need to put on a showy flower display to attract insects. Technically, what we see is an inflorescence composed of tiny flowers, or florets, protected by bracts. The bracts are the showy structures that add a second tier of visual impact to the landscape. Here are a few of the grasses that are blooming now in my garden:

I love switch grass, and my favorite is this blue cultivar, Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Sky' Note the tiny burgundy-red flowers.
This panicle type inflorescence looks like beads on crimped wires to me!
My prairie/meadow garden features native little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium.
Red flowers here, too, on a spike inflorescence
Indian grass, Sorgastrum nutans, is another native.

Although this also looks like another spike inflorescence, it will open into a raceme as it matures a bit
Note the minute yellow flowers. The hair-like structure is an awn
The next time you're admiring the grasses in your garden, take a closer look and see what you can discover!


Anonymous said...

I love the panicle - it's quite fun! Do I have any in my yard? I don't think I've seen it before. Diane

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Diane as in DD? No, I don't think you have any switch grass in your yard. Hmmm, maybe we should remedy that!