Monday, May 18, 2009

Meadow foxtail






For hay fever sufferers the season of misery has arrived, and this is one of the culprits – meadow foxtail grass Alopecurus pratensis. The flower spikes produce their feathery stigmas from each floret first (bootom picture), then the dangling stamens are produced from the top of the flower spike downwards (top picture), releasing clouds of minute pollen grains as they split open. Some pollen grains are filtered out of the air by those feathery stigmas, which you can see under the microscope at my other bog Beyondthehumaneye

Meadow foxtail is very similar to Timothy grass Phleum pratense and the easiest way to tell them apart is by flowering time – Timothy doesn’t begin to flower until July, after spring-flowering meadow foxtail has finished.

4 comments:

  1. I'm a hay fever sufferer but seeing these stunning photos helps me cope with the misery!

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  2. Hi Rob,apart from anything else, I like the names of grasses - cock'sfoot,crested dog's tail, twitch, bents, melick, fescue, Yorkshire fog... all redolent of rural England.

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  3. They look great against that sky. So dainty looking in the first picture.

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  4. Hi Keith, it's amazing just how much pollen a single foxtail grass flower spike will produce. A field full must produce clouds of pollen.

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