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Waves of Grain Index

Poaceae - the Grass Family

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The plants listed in these galleries belong to the grass family.  Long parallel veined leaves characterize them.  Some of these plants are very invasive and have become established worldwide.  Most of the plants shown are native to the semiarid county where I live.


Amateur botanists consider many of these families difficult in the identification of species.  They are right.  First, the appearance of many grasses are variable leading to discrepancies in taxonomy.  Second, differentiation of some species requires a microscope.  Third, active research is going on.  Depending on which leading botanist a group follows, determines the names of subfamilies, tribes, and sometimes genus and species.  My old textbook, the Texas A&M grass site, and National sites frequently do not match.  So, if you don't agree with the classification or identification, please email me.


Despite the diversity, all grasses belong to one family, so they are divided into subfamilies and tribes for identification.  Poaceae has the most economic value of all the plants; corn, wheat, rye, barley, etc.  Most people who study grasses apply that knowledge toward crops.  All grasses have 3 part flowers and no woody growth (bamboo is not wood).  Pollen is a major cause of allergies.



Find it

Scientific Name         Scientific Name by Family         Common Name

Texas grass list     Texas "not grass" list      Definitions and Information


Grass subfamilies

Pink number = unidentified species

subfamily Aristidoideae

tribe Aristideae - Threeawn


subfamily Arundinoideae

tribe Arundineae - Reed


subfamily Bambusoideae

tribe Bambuseae - Bamboo & Cane


subfamily Chloridoideae

tribe Cynodonteae - Grama Grass

tribe Cynodonteae - Windmillgrass  6

tribe Cynodonteae - Other

tribe Eragrostideae - Dropseed (open)  8

tribe Eragrostideae - Dropseed (spike)

tribe Eragrostideae - Lovegrass

tribe Eragrostideae - Sprangletop

tribe Eragrostideae - Tridens

tribe Eragrostideae - Other


subfamily Danthonioideae

tribe Danthonieae - Pampasgrass

subfamily Panicoideae

tribe Andropogoneae - Bluestem (Beardgrass) 2

tribe Andropogoneae - Bluestem (Old World)

tribe Andropogoneae - Corn

tribe Andropogoneae - Sorghum 3

tribe Paniceae - Barnyardgrass

tribe Paniceae - Bristlegrass (bottlebrush)

tribe Paniceae - Bristlegrass (narrow)

tribe Paniceae - Crabgrass

tribe Paniceae - Cupgrass

tribe Paniceae - Dallisgrass

tribe Paniceae - Panicgrass

tribe Paniceae - Rosettegrass

tribe Paniceae - Sandbur

tribe Paniceae - Witchgrass


subfamily Pooideae

tribe Aveneae - Oats  4

tribe Aveneae - Other  1

tribe Bromeae - Brome

tribe Poeae - Bluegrass & Ryegrass

tribe Triticeae - Barley

tribe Triticeae - Wheat

tribe Triticeae - Wildrye


Basic Taxonomy Key

Taken from Introduction to Sedges (Carex:Cyperaceae), by Andrew Hipp


Poaceae (Grasses)

Cyperaceae (Sedges)

Junacaceae (Rushes)


2 ranked (in 2 rows); sometimes appearing leafless

3 ranked (in 3 rows); flat, w-shaped in cross-section, or apparently lacking

Generally inrolled or round in cross-section; hollow or with corss-partitions (you can feel these with your fingernal)


Margins overlapping or fused

Margins fused

Margins overlapping


A flap of tissue at the junction of the sheath and blade, not fused to the blade

A flap of tissue at the junction of the sheath and blade, partly fused to the blade


Floral Scales

2 surrounding each flower (palea and lemma)

1 below each flower

No scales beneath flowers.  6-merous perianth (looks a little like a lily flower)



Bisexual or unisexual

Usually bisexuals, Three(six)-merous



Achene (a hard nutlet)

capsule filled with 3 to many seeds


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