Home   Grasses   Grass Identification: The Tribes of Grasses – 8 Arundineae

Grass Identification: The Tribes of Grasses – 8 Arundineae

A small and, according to Cope & Gray (2009), controversial tribe with one very useful character – the ligule is not membranous but is a fringe of hairs.

Several other tribes also have this, e.g. Cynodonteae which includes the salt marsh grasses Spartina, but Arundineae is the main tribe of native British grasses with this type of ligule.

The inflorescence is a panicle, (large and plumose (feathery) in Cortaderia (Pampas grass) and Phragmites (Common Reed) and sometimes spike-like in Molinia (Purple Moor-grass) or racemose in Danthonia (Heath Grass). Spikelets several flowered, the uppermost florets often imperfect, glumes acute to acuminate usually membranous, lemmas usually rounded on the back 3-11 nerved and with well developed palea.

Phragmites australis (Common Reed)

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This is a characteristic and unmistakable species, the tallest non-woody plant in Britain reaching 3.5 metres and our largest grass.  The panicle is very large, dense and feathery (15-40 cm long) tinged brown or purple.  Spikelets with feathery hairs at maturity, glumes unequal, the lower 3-5 mm the upper 4-9 mm, lowest lemma 9-13 mm, fertile lemmas as long as the spikelet, palea 2/3 the length of the lemma.  Leaves blades very large 20-50 cm long and 10-40 mm wide, ligule a short fringe of hairs 0.5-1 mm long. Spreading by an extensive system of rhizomes, this is a very common species of fresh and brackish waters at the edges or rivers, lakes and ponds, and in ditches, marshes and often dominating in extensive swamps (reed beds).

 

 

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