Saturday, June 11, 2016

Grasses in the business park

Alopecurus geniculatus


The business park in Swindon where I work (lawned, tarmacked and planted with low-maintenance shrubs), was formerly farmland, and before that damp grassland. The potential to revert to that state remains, as was shown when one of the buildings lay unoccupied for a number of years (e.g. here).

Now the water is safely penned in ditches, ponds and designated wetland. Here's Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus) , growing in a ditch that ribbons decoratively between office buildings.



Alopecurus geniculatus

(Photos 10th June 2016.)

A dainty little foxtail, growing on the surface of wetland, with kneed stem-nodes. The flowers are attractive at this time of year, with narrow green heads in bud, followed by anthers that are grey-mauve at first, changing to rust-brown before falling. The stems have bluey leaf-sheaths.


Alopecurus geniculatus

Alopecurus geniculatus

Festuca arundinacea

(Photos 10th June 2016.)

Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea) growing on a damp bank above wetland. In both the places I know it (here and in Shaw Forest Park), it is near but not beside water.

The large tufts, consisting of sturdy hairless leaves that are highly likely to cut your hands, somewhat resembles Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa, see below!), but the latter has denser tufts, the leaves are darker green and narrower.

I've just found out that Tall Fescue often, though not always, has a symbiotic relationship with a fungus which renders it mildly toxic. Mainly the benefit to the plant is to deter insects, but this property has been known to affect horses and to a lesser extent cows.



Festuca arundinacea

Festuca arundinacea

Flowering.
Festuca arundinacea

Just before flowering.
Festuca arundinacea 






Deschampsia cespitosa

(Photos 10th June 2016.)

Here's a couple of shots of Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hair-grass) with the panicles just emerging, looking silky and graceful.  (Here's what it looks like later.)


Deschampsia cespitosa

As usual, its companion Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) can be glimpsed in the distance. Both species are plants of damp meadows.


Vulpia myuros


Finally a grass that owes nothing to the site's damp grassland heritage but is an increasing coloniser of the arid habitats (tarmac and paving) that humans prefer. This is Rat's-tail Fescue (Vulpia myuros). I took these shots a week earlier than the others, on 2nd June 2016, hoping to capture the messy star-like appearance of the plant in this moment just before flowering, when the flowering shoots are slanting out in all directions from the diminutive basal leaves.


Vulpia myuros

Vulpia myuros



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