Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sedges have edges

Ok, it's been busy since my last post, but also boring, so nothing too exciting to report... just lots more dead Reed Canary Grass. I hope the salmon appreciate it! We plan to begin using the amphibious Argo in this photo to begin accessing more swampy areas soon, so we're firing up the engine and getting it ready for battle.

If you're new to botany, you might realize how difficult it is to identify grasses. One of the first lessons is a handy little ditty taught to me by a Nature Conservancy botanist some 10 years ago: "Sedges have edges, Rushes are round,
And grasses have nodes from top to the ground."

Sedges, rushes, and grasses are all members of the Class monocots, which means that seedlings have just one (mono) 'leaf' called a cotyledon. Flowering plants have seedlings with two leaves, so they're dicots. Sedges (Cyperaceae) have a triangular solid stem, so when you feel it between your fingers, there is an edge. Rushes (Juncaceae) often look similar to sedges, but their stem is round. Grasses (Poaceae) have hollow stems with nodes, or joints, that often have a leaf attached to the node.

But as with practically everything in botany, there are no absolute guidelines. Sedges won't always feel like they have an edge. Plants have an amazing variety, including carnivorous plants and ones that don't bother photosynthesizing... and lots of ways to trick the unwary observer. Plants also have incredible abilities to hybridize, such as polyploidy, which can drive botanists bonkers.

Meanwhile, it was a rainy weekend, so we holed up at home. We realized, living in Olympia, that we are therefore Olympians and should observe the opening ceremony and view some events. We also went to a nearby park for some great birdwatching and a fun puzzle geocache.

For the Safety First portion of this blog, I'd like to remind readers that it is now a primary offense in some states not to wear your seatbelt... so buckle up, or you'll be paying a steep fine ($125 to be exact!).


gator93 said...

Is that a motorized toad you're sitting on?? :)

Mangrove Tom said...