26 September 2007

Quack grass

Hiked in the hills above Stanford. I wanted to see if I could find some of the grasses identified by John Rawlings in his website jrbpgrasses.blogspot.com/.

While there may be a dozen types of grass in a single acre, different species dominate smaller zones within that landscape. I found during the first fifty yards of my walk the primary grass was wild oat. Then there were twenty yards of so of mixed grasses, especially what I think was quack grass or Elymus repens (photo above). A few paces later, quack grass became the dominant grass in the landscape. The grasses appear as if they were different sections of an orchestra, with the brass instruments dominating for several measures, but soon replaced by the string section.

If you read the guidebooks, Elymus repens seems to be one of the world's most evil plants, and even sometimes is called "medusa's head" by gardeners. It orginated in Europe and appeared in the US around 1600. It is believed to crowd out many other species of plants and seems to thrive in disturbed soil. Some websites say it has infested 37 crops in 65 countries. Some farmers call it the "worst pest with which the farmer has to contend."

However, it looked wonderful blowing in the warm wind in Palo Alto.

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