Sunday, 15 May 2011

The green green grass of home

The Safari got bored sat in at Base Camp so had quick shimmy out to B&Q to get some compost - peat free of course - for Wifey's tomatoes, runner beans and to top up the spuds. As we were unloading our goodies we spotted a coupe of 'interesting' species of grass close by.

The first was introduced - bad mistake - by the Safari in to our wildflower meadow behind the garage and despite the heavy seeds has managed to jump over the house and colonise the front garden! It'll be in every one in the street's garden next year - can't keep a good weed down!!!

It's Quaking Grass by the way. Named from the way the panicles shake in the breeze.

At the end of the street growing at the foot of a lamp-post, a big specimen no doubt 'fertilised' by the local mutts - is Wall Barley, an inoffensive annual perpetually sprayed by the trigger happy weedkiller brigade.

This is a close relative of perhaps the most important plant in human history - it was a large seeded wild barley (you can see the size of the seeds in the pic above - and where not peed on can be eaten) whose seeds were collected stored and then replanted rather than being eaten straight away and so was 'cultivated' by the first farmers and so our social history and the face of our planet changed forever - all because of a small 'insignificant' grass.

To this day some 7000 - 10000 years later (a mere blink in our total history!) it is estimated that a little over 50% of all the calories humans eat on a daily basis is provided by just three species of grasses, Wheat, Maize and Rice! not only that much of our meat calories are provided by animals that convert grass leaves (which we can't eat) of species whose seeds are of no use to us into meat which we have always been able to chomp on. Don't ever think grasses are simple, boring and unimportant - the Safari thinks they'rrre grrrreat! Oh yeah Frosties they're great too - and made of grass of course...
Grass has a far more important function than anything discussed so far...footy and cricket!

On a totally different tack, this lucky lad has got a crackin trip lined up. Many years ago we went to a talk about the far east of Siberia and were blown away by what was there. on of the slides showed hundreds of white blobs on a moorland type landscape - not sheep but Snowy Owls in a Lemming year! Another slide showed just how many Ross's Gulls (if you've never seen one of these make sure you twitch the next one as they are little pearlers!) are out there. At the time it was still the Cold War era and nobody knew anything about Russian wildlife so Ross's Gulls were classed as rare based on the knowledge of the Canadian and Alaskan populations - in Siberia they're scarce and local but far from rare, possibly 100,000+ individuals - they just don't travel much!

Anyway we wouldn't mind going on a safari like that!

Where to next? Sun's come out might nip out and get even more grass pics for you - no growing now.

In the meantime let us know who's off to the remotest corners of your outback.


Warren Baker said...

I remember that Wall barley Dave. We use to ''spear'' each other with it :-) It was always covered in little black insects, that the Sparrows used to fed to their young, maybe thats why the sparrers have declined now!

cliff said...

Love the Quaking Grass photos Dave - & I bet it's certainly been doing some quaking in the weather we've endured today.

Michele Wassell said...

Great photos and posting...

Monika said...

Those quaking grass photos are impressive - weed or not!