Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum


Photo credit: Wang Luan Keng


This is a large and cosmopolitan family (also called Gramineae) consisting mostly of herbs, but also including the woody bamboos. While grasses are rarely mistaken for members of other families, the opposite is not true, with members of several other families (particularly the Cyperaceae) often mistakenly called grasses. True grasses can be recognised by their long, narrow, parallel-veined leaves, round cross-sectioned stems that are usually hollow between sections, inflorescences composed of many small flowers, and the seed-like fruits (caryopsis). Most grasses are adapted for wind-pollination, with the anthers dangling outside the scale-like bracts on slender stalks and a conspicuous feathery stigma for catching pollen. Seed dispersal is more varied and is assisted in various species by long hairs that aid dispersal by wind (e.g., Imperata cylindrica), hooks and spikes that attach the fruits to passing animals, or structures that attract ants.

Grasses are represented in Singapore by 48 species that are believed to be native and a similar number of alien invasive weeds.

Read more about the Poales order.
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