22 September 2007

Urban grass preserves

Noticed five or six types of grass on the wide curb on the northside of the elevated roadway connecting Masonic and Geary. It looked like there was fescue, California Brome and several other varieties. Part of me would love to create urban grass preserves (grasses of the concrete jungle) by just posting large signs above sites like this. The sign would identify the different species of grass and how many of them were non-native grasses from distant shores. I'll try to get a photo of this stretch of roadway tomorrow.

Also found a lot of California Brome among the grasses on the soccer fields at Crissy Field. California Brome has these complex florets that are so flattened they look two-dimensional--beautifully geometric on one side but razor thin when flipped on its edge. It lives only in California, Oregon, and Washington. They look a little like a natural version of the lanyards I made at camp with long plastic strands. The term Bromus refers to the Greek name for oats.

Botanists value this plant because it is a native grass species, grows quickly, and can take over soil from herbaceous weeds. I've seen both green and brown varieties in our region.

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