by Jean Turner
|A guide to identifying grasses.
Grasses are most easily identified when they are in flower, using a
combination of floral and vegetative features. The structure of the flower heads is quite
complex and must be clearly understood in order to be able to identify grasses. A x10 hand
lens is useful for this. It is possible (although more challenging) to identify grasses
even when they are not flowering. In this case, the structure of the leaves, together with
the growth form of the overall plant, become the most important features (see Grass
Grasses can quite easily be confused with members of two different families of flowering plants, the sedges and the rushes. The first step in identification is therefore to be sure which of these three superficially similar families of plants the specimen belongs to (see the Introduction below).
The most important features to look for when identifying grasses are given in the 'Ten Tips' section.