Readers’ wildlife photos

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):



  1. Kevin
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Looks like that grass could grow in New Mexico. Imagine an American yard filled with that. Lawns would be redefined.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Beautiful! Grasses are under appreciated and there are really beautiful ones. Even the plain kind in fields are lovely.

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Very good. It looks like the Cladoraphus spinosus is aptly named, and one would not want to dive into it!

  4. Marilee Lovit
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Beautiful grasses! Great to see them here as wildlife.

  5. Posted January 21, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad to see grasses, and such lovely ones! (I study grasses, too.)

    Interesting to see the Cladoraphis. A member of the genus was introduced in Oregon but did not persist. I’ve always wanted to see it, though at the same time grateful that it is not a weed here.

  6. Claudia Baker
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow, the close-ups the spikelets are absolutely beautiful.

    Those two kitties though…Be still my heart.

  7. Hempenstein
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Amanda – I’ll always remember a the taxonomic tag some yrs back on some sort of little plant growing on a flat gravel roof visible from a 2nd fl window at soon-to-be-demolished Millington Hall. Last line was Adverse Habitat.

    Also a tag on a plastic flower in the greenhouse, something like Family: Plasticae Genus: Woolworthales

  8. Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Now I need to,closely at grasses in my backyard

  9. Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Now I n red to,look at flowers on grasses in my back forty

  10. Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I love the skikelets. They are so pretty:)

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