Submitted by AJ Cann on Thu, 28/07/2022 - 08:04
Grasses

NatureSpot continues to support Leicestershire County Council and Parish Councils to develop the environmental value of their road verges. More...

Peter Smith writes: 

A small area of verge at the corner of Leicester Road and Latimer Road in Cropston is being left unmown over the summer as part of an Urban Verge Wildlife Initiative to encourage biodiversity. The verge is effectively a tiny piece of meadow so, while the wild flowers tend to attract most of the attention, grasses are its foundation. There is much more to grasses than just "grass"! Most plants grow from the tips of their shoots so, when they get nibbled by grazing animals, their growth is halted until they can put out a new shoot from lower down. Grasses evolved to grow from the base of each plant instead so when their tips get grazed (or mown) they can just keep going. As a result, grasses now cover a huge area of Earth’s land surface. In the forms of wheat, rice and maize, they are also the staple food of 80% of the world’s population. Instead of producing showy and scented flowers to attract insects, grasses rely on the wind for pollination. That is why they have spreading, feathery flowers that release lots of pollen and cause distress to hay-fever sufferers. The grass flowers in the photo were all found in the Leicester Road verge on 16th June and you might be surprised how diverse they are. When seen en masse, they also show subtle shades of cream, green, yellow, brown and purple so that a grassy meadow waving in the breeze is a lovely sight. While you will need to wait until next June to see grasses at their best, do take the chance to notice the variety of them that can still be found on unmown verges and alongside footpaths. Or you can just enjoy their names! The nine species of grass that have been found so far in our verge are: Cock's-foot, Common Bent, Common Soft-brome, False Oat-grass, Meadow Foxtail, Perennial Rye-grass, Red Fescue, Rough Meadow-grass, Timothy and Yorkshire Fog.

This verge has a dedicated page on the Naturespot website, which will continue to be updated with details of the plants and insects found there, including photos: https://www.naturespot.org.uk/Cropston_Leicester_Road_Verge

Please add your own records if you spot anything interesting.