Let us have grasses today! We never get enough plants here, so I’m delighted to show these photos taken by reader Amanda Ingram. Her notes are indented:
This loyal reader, a fellow William & Mary alumna (who also studied population genetics with Bruce Grant!), thought you might enjoy some wildlife photos from a charming but underappreciated group of plants, the grasses. I’m a systematist, and focus on Eragrostis (the lovegrasses) and their relatives; these photos came from a collecting trip I took several years ago to South Africa and Namibia.
This is Eragrostis bergiana, a charming little grass that grows in what the South Africans call “pans” (slight depressions that are seasonally inundated). I wish I could replace my lawn with it—the plants are just a few centimeters tall, so no mowing required!
The spikelets (clusters of flowers, and yes, grasses have flowers) are especially charming. Here’s a closeup:
The next grass, Stiburus alopecuroides, is a close relative of Eragrostis and is quite beautiful with its purple spikelets and hairy foliage:
A closer look at the spikelets (with anthers in a beautifully contrasting color; AKA plant porn):
And finally, Cladoraphis spinosa, one of the strangest grasses I’ve ever seen:
…and its spikelets (see—it really is a grass!)
For the ailurophiles, here are our two cats: Julius and Cleo, snoozing on the William & Mary seal (in blanket form):