23 September 2007

Grass in Golden Gate Park

I rode several times in Golden Gate Park with the kids: around the park and down to the Beach Chalet. I saw many types of grass while riding, some of which I collected and brought home. As usual, what looks so easy to identify in the landscape is impossible to find in the textbooks when you get home. Beecher Crampton's Grasses in California is helpful to some extent, but it does not have enough illustrations and the photographs are far too tiny to help with visual identification. Basically, Crampton is for people with some botany experience and it tends to use fairly scientific jargon.

Still, the wonder of so many species that are as yet unknown to me is a great thrill. I have much work in front of me.

No matter. Today I was reading that Golden Gate Park was so covered in sand dunes that a newspaper writer in 1868 said the park was a "dreary waste of shifting sandhills where a blade of grass cannot be raised without four posts to keep it from blowing away." (http://www.towhee.net/birdsf/ggp.html). Park officials planted rye-grass and other plants to keep the sand in place. The grass was the first step; the trees and more grand and ornate plantings followed later.

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