IN OVER MY HEAD

Yesterday I came home after leading a little tour of the TRNWR for 10 Northwest Youth Corps workers who will be removing invasive plants this week. I was kind of fired-up — as I usually am after an educational event — so I decided to tackle my grass ID project again.

I’d previously gone through the grasses section of Pojar and MacKinnon’s Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast which was recommended by our plant authority, Ginny Maffit, as the most authoritative identification manual for the region. I had found about a dozen entries that looked like plants I’ve seen on the refuge.

The entries in Pojar and MacKinnon are of necessity brief and only one picture per entry. So I decided to try something new: google the scientific names of plants and see what popped up. I was delighted to find quite a list of additional web sites devoted to plant identities and details. The first plant I searched for is commonly called Meadow Barley. I typed in Hodeum brachyantherum, its Latin scientific name. I decided I had surpassed my depth of comprehension when I reached the following entry on the Utah State Univ. Manual of Grasses for North America website:

Plants summer or winter annuals or perennials; cespitose, sometimes shortly rhizomatous. Culms to 135(150) cm, erect, geniculate, or decumbent; nodes glabrous or pubescent. Sheaths open, pubescent or glabrous; auricles present or absent; ligules hyaline, truncate, erose; blades flat to more or less involute, more or less pubescent on both sides. Inflorescences usually spikelike racemes, sometimes spikes, all customarily called spikes, with 3 spikelets at each node, central spikelets usually sessile, sometimes pedicellate, pedicels to 2 mm, lateral spikelets usually pedicellate, pedicels curved or straight, sometimes all 3 spikelets sessile in cultivated plants; disarticulation usually in the rachises, the spikelets falling in triplets, cultivated forms generally not disarticulating. Spikelets with 1 floret; glumes awnlike, usually exceeding the floret. Lateral spikelets usually sterile or staminate, often bisexual in cultivated forms; florets pedicellate, usually reduced; lemmas awned or unawned. Central spikelets bisexual; florets sessile; rachillas prolonged beyond the floret; lemmas ovate, glabrous to pubescent, 5-veined, usually awned, rarely unawned; paleas almost equal to the lemmas, narrowly ovate, keeled; lodicules 2, broadly lanceolate, margins ciliate; anthers 3, usually yellowish. Caryopses usually tightly enclosed in the lemma and palea at maturity. 2n = 14, 28, 42. Name from the old Latin name for barley.

Okaaaay… That makes everything clear…NOT!

 

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