Interesting facts about grass

grass

Grasses are among the most familiar and important flowering plants.

They belong to the botanical family known either as the Poaceae or the Gramineae.

There are about 12,000 grass species.

They rank among the top five families of flowering plants in terms of the number of species.

Grasses are one of the most widely distributed and abundant groups of plants on Earth. They are found on every continent, including Antarctica.

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Grasses dominate habitats such as salt marshes, steppes, savannas, and more. Where they reign, they tend to create vast biomes. In fact, if continuous areas of grassland habitats are tallied, the result would show that grasses cover more than 30 percent of the dry land on Earth!

Grasses are the world’s single most important source of food.

Humans consume grasses as cereals (eg, wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats), sweetening (eg, sugar from sugar cane, molasses from sorghum) or drink (eg, beer, whiskey).

Most meat and dairy products are derived from grass-eating domesticated animals. Many wild animals are also grass eaters.

sheep grass

Grasses contribute to the aesthetic environment as turfs gracing playing fields, golf courses and lawns, and as ornamental garden grasses. They also stabilize soil and prevent erosion.

Of all crops grown, 70% are grasses. Three cereals — rice, wheat, and corn — provide more than half of all calories consumed by humans.

By the late 17th century, grass lawns, with the grass cut close to the ground, started popping up on the grounds of the wealthy, such as at the famed Versailles gardens in France where “green carpet” (tapis vert) was included in André Le Nôtre’s landscape design.

versailles gardens

A variety of factors caused grass lawns to become more popular. First, the Industrial Revolution resulted in the first lawn mower, originally developed by Edwin Budding in 1830, and popularized by the late 19th century. Being able to do away with scythes and back-breaking, expensive labour meant that trimmed grass lawns became more accessible to the average person.

Grass lawns are an important covering of playing surfaces in many sports, including football (soccer), American football, tennis, golf, cricket, softball and baseball.

golf grass

If you have ever really looked at the grass on a well-maintained golf green, it is absolutely amazing – it is a flawless surface made out of plants!

Nowhere in the world does a sward of ryegrass attract the attention of the world the way it does at The Championships, Wimbledon. But getting that grass to a playable point for two weeks of intense pounding requires year-long care. And with 18 championship courts and 22 practice courts at the All England Club, and nearly 100 years at the same venue, they know a bit about growing grass.

wimbledon

The “stripes” that you see on a lawn or athletic field are caused by light reflecting off the blades of grass. It has not been cut at a different height nor is it a different breed of grass. The “stripes” are made by bending the blades of grass in different directions. So cutting a lawn in an opposing pattern (up/down, right/left, north/south, east/west etc) provides the most contrasting stripe effect.

Approximately 80% of all homes in the United States have grass lawns.

The giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) of tropical south-east Asia is the tallest grass species in the world. It can reach as high as 50 meters (164 feet).

bamboo

Agrostology, sometimes graminology, is the scientific study of the grasses.

The name of the family “Poaceae” was given by John Hendley Barnhart in 1895, based on the tribe Poeae described in 1814 by Robert Brown, and the type genus Poa described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek πόα (póa, “fodder”).

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In English, the word “grass” appears in several phrases. For example:
“The grass is always greener on the other side” suggests an alternate state of affairs will always seem preferable to one’s own.
“Don’t let the grass grow under your feet” tells someone to get moving.
“When elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers” tells of bystanders caught in the crossfire.

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