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Dr M’s Top Twenty Flowering Plant Families: Poaceae

The Devil has the best tunes but the Poaceae surely has all the best words – LIGULE, AURICLE, GLUME, SPIKELET and LODICULE!

As you may now, Dr M is particularly fond of Poaceae and is currently in the midst of a series of posts on the tribes of grasses, check those out for the Devil in the detail, here Dr M takes the opportunity to post a reminder of the key characters that mark out the green and wonderful family that is the Poaceae!

Poaceae in brief:

  • The 5th-largest vascular plant family in the World, divided into 28 tribes around 740 genera and 11,400 species
  • Huge economic, ecological and aesthetic importance
  • Flower stems (called culms) are round in section and hollow with internodes  separated by knobbly knees (called nodes)
  • A monocot family with leaves alternate and in two ranks (distichous), with linear, entire, leaf  blades with parallel veins
  • Leaves differentiated into sheath, blade and ligule, which may be membranous or a fringe of hairs
  • Flowers much reduced (called florets) unisexual or bisexual, 3 stamens, and stigmas elongated and feathery
  • Florets arranged in spikelets (each with one or more florets)  in a terminal inflorescence which may be spike-like, a raceme or a branched panicle
  • Spikelets subtended by a pair of scales (called glumes) each floret itself subtended by two scales: one lemma and one palea
  • The lemma (and sometimes the glume) may have a terminal or dorsal bristle (called an awn)
  • There are also a pair of lodicules which are tiny and not easy to find and not useful for ID but LODICULE it’s a great word isn’t it?!
  • Fruit (the grass “grain”) is a dry caryopsis  – a specialised fruit in which the ovary wall is fused to the seed

Gallery of Poaceous Parts:

Click on the images for a better view

Poaceous Post Script:  If you haven’t already seen Dr M’s Poaceae Song, treat yourself now!   Poaceae: a family of grasses green and wonderful!

 

 

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