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Mar 31

Native Grasses of Kansas (1889)

Posted on March 31, 2022 at 10:33 AM by Bill Sowers

Grasses of Kansas cover 2NATIVE GRASSES OF KANSAS (1889)
View article here:

Agrostology (My word for the day), sometimes called graminology (that will be my word for the day tomorrow), is the scientific study of the grasses.  Agrostologists classify different kinds of grasses. Agrostology also has importance in the maintenance of wild and grazed grasslands, agriculture (crop plants such as rice, maize, sugarcane, and wheat are grasses, and many types of animal fodder are grasses), urban and environmental horticulture, turf grass management and sod production, ecology, and conservation. 

The classification or naming or different types of grasses is probably as old as humankind.  We love to name things.  It makes them matter... sets them apart.

The article cited above is a compilation of Kansas grasses.  The compiler, William Ashbrook Kellerman, borrowed from many different sources and published a descriptive list of 170 different varieties of grasses found in Kansas.  His article also includes 43 plates of wonderful black and white illustrations of many of the grasses he cites. It's a great look at what's growing in a Kansas field you pass by or in your back yard.   You can view this article, clipped from the March 1889 quarterly report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture online at the State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library.  The link is at the top of the Blog.

Just to give you an idea of how extensive Kellerman's 1889 publication is, here's a list of the illustrations (Plates). The common names of some of these grasses are cool.  You can also amaze your friends and neighbor using the Latin names... complaining about "Panicum sanguinale" instead of crab grass:

LIST OF ILLUSTRATED PLATES: No. 1, Gama-grass (Tripsaciun dactyloides) -- No. 3. Little blue stem (Andropogon scoparius). -- No. 5. Big blue stem (Andropogon provincialis) -- No. 9. Bushy blue stem (Andropogon nutans) -- No. 12. Slender paspalum (Paspalum setaceum) -- No. 16. Crab grass (Panicum sanguinale) -- No. 19. Branching panic-grass (Panicum proliferum) -- No. 20. Old witch grass (Panicum capillare) -- No. 22. Switch grass (Panicum virgatum) -- No. 31. Barn-yard grass (Panicum Crus-galli) -- No. 43. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) -- No. 49. Beard grass (Aristida purpurea) -- No. 58. Spiked muhlenbergia (Muhlenbergia glomerata) -- No. 59. Mexican muhlenbergia (Muhlenbergia Mexicana) -- No. 66. Timothy (Phleum pratense) -- No. 77. Drop seed grass (Sporoboltis cryptandrus) -- No. 83. Red-top (Agrostis vulgaris) -- No. 88. Small reed-grass (Calamagrostis Canadensis) -- No. 94. Cord grass (Spartina cynosuroides) -- No. 96. Chloris verticillata -- No. 100. Gramma grass (Bouteloua oligostcachya) -- No. 103. Feather grass (Leptochloa mucronata) -- No. 104. Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) -- No. 105. False buffalo grass (Munroa squarrosa) -- No. 107. Tall red-top (Triodia cuprea) -- No. 113. Spike grass (Diplachne fascicularis) -- No. 116. Candy grass (Eragrostis major) -- No. 123-5. Spikelets of Koeleria (1-6) and Eatonia (7-15) -- No. 125. Crested Koeleria (Koelerici cristata) -- No. 128. Broad-flowered fescue (Uniola latifolia) -- No. 129. Salt grass (Distichlis maritima) -- No. 130. Orchid grass (Dactylis glomerata) -- No. 131. Mountain blue-grass (Poa andina) -- No. 134. Wire grass (Poa compressa) -- No. 136. Kentucky blue-grass (Poa pratensis) -- No. 139. Wood spear-grass (Poa alsodes) -- No. 143. Reed meadow-grass (Glyceria aquaitica) -- No. 147. Sheep's fescue grass (Festuca ovina) -- No. 149. Meadow fescue (Festuca elatior) -- No. 154. Cheat or Chess (Bromus secalinus) -- No. 159. Rye-grass (Lolium perenne) -- No. 160. Quack grass (Agropyrum repens) -- No. 167. Wild rye (Elymus Canadensis).

Keep in mind that the world of grasses has probably changed since 1889.   If you'd like to see a current, colorful list of Kansas grasses you can do so at this website:  

This amazing site, maintained by Mike Haddock,  contains information and more than 8,731 identification photos (in color)  for 1018 species of forbs, grasses, sedges, rushes, trees, and other woody plants found growing in Kansas.