03 October 2007

Rescue Brome at California Street and Sixth Avenue

Discovered a great example of Rescue Brome (Bromus catharticus) grass growing out of the grates of a stormwater drain at California Street and Sixth Avenue. It was the shock of bright green that made it noticeable among the dried leaves and empty Odwalla bottles. It is hard to figure out where the roots of this plant go or how long it is going to survive in this busy intersection.

Rescue Brome originated in South America and was brought to the United States as a new type of grass that could feed grazing animals. It got its name by being one of the first plants to grow in the spring and thus one of the earliest forage grasses for livestock after a long, cold winter.

Rescue Brome can be found in many parts of the world, including Australia and the British Isles. Here it tends to grow in disturbed soil and on roadsides. Although Beecher Crampton doesn't really give it much ink in his book, Grasses in California, it gets a mentioned in a number of websites about flora in the region, including Bay Area Plants at bayareawildflowers.com.

The variety I looked at in the drain had beautiful green and purple flower panicles (flower clusters)--and authors have described these as looking much like an artist's paintbrush.

I have to admit that I felt a little idiotic crouched over the sewer grate gazing at a clump of grass. It was only a matter of time before the police were called--or that I would be run over by the large Lexus SUVs (Lexus GX470, Lexus RX350) that are the common vehicle species of the neighborhood. I decided to snag the largest panicle so that I could study it in the safety of own home.

(photograph at the left is from the PDF "Bay Area Plants" mentioned above, the photograph on the right is by author of the drain at Sixth and California.)

1 comment:

Mary said...

Thanks for writing this.