‘A child said, what is the grass? Fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.’ -Walt Whitman
What is Grass?
There are over 9000 known species of grass, making the Gramineae family of plants one of the largest on Earth. Why grass manages to be so prevalent comes down to the fact that they have a very simple structure and a simple way in which they grow and function.
The structure of grass
The roots of the grass plant grow down into the soil and are fibrous. They extend into the earth, collecting valuable nutrients and water while acting as an anchor to secure the plant into the ground.
The stems of the grass plants are called culms and they grow up from the base or crown of the plant Culms are rigid and hollow, except where the stem segments join together at nodes.
From the culms and above the nodes extend narrow leaves. Have you ever noticed that the leaves alternate in each direction as they move up the plant? Take a look. If the first leaf grows to the right, the next will grow to the left and so on.
On the leaf it self the lower part is called the sheath and the upper is called the blade. The leaves on the grass plant serve a vital role in the healthy life of the plant. They collect energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis and it’s the photosynthesising chlorophyll in the leaves that gives the grass plants its green colour.
How grass reproduces.
There are two distinct ways in which grasses reproduce.
With some varieties of grass, reproduction occurs through their flowers. The florets grow together in groups known as spikelets and these flowers produce spores that pollinate other flowers, which in turn produce seeds.
Many commercial turf varieties have been designed to be infertile, so cannot be grown from seed. These grasses have additional stems that grow out from the lawn plant. Stems above the ground are stolons and above the ground are rhizomes. Both stolons and rhizomes reach out from the original plant and establish new culms and will continue to nurture the new grass plant until such time that it is strong enough to support itself.
Understanding what grass is will allow you to better care for your lawn. The right soil and watering will ensure healthy roots and rhizomes. Adequate sunlight will ensure healthy leaves and stolons. Healthy grass plants will be able to self-repair bare patches and ward off weed and pest invasions.
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.