The adjective grass, from the Latin word gramineus, is used to qualify a plant according to certain characteristics of its stem. By extension, this term is known as the family of these species.
The grasses are monocotyledonous angiosperms, two concepts that refer to specific qualities. Angiosperms are phanerogams with closed carpels (ovaries) that contain the ovules. Being phanerogams, their reproductive organs are flower-shaped and visible. Regarding its inclusion in the set of monocots, it is due to the fact that its embryo has a single cotyledon (name that refers to the first leaf of the phanerogams).
Regarding the stem of grasses, they are cylindrical and generally hollow. The stem presents knots, from which alternate leaves emerge that embrace it. The flowers, which can be arranged in panicles or ears, are simple and their scales cover a dry grain.
There are more than twelve thousand species of grasses, being one of the most numerous plant families and the most relevant in terms of economy, since they have been part of the diet of the human being for a long time. Grasses can be consumed directly (through oils, cereals, etc.) and also serve as food for animals that are used by man for their meat, eggs and milk.
The corn, the wheat, the oatmeal, the rice and the sugar cane, for example, belong to the group of grasses. This family of plants can adapt to multiple environments, that is why its production extends over a large part of the earth’s surface.
The variety that characterizes the grass family is noteworthy, which explains why it is so present in our day to day, both in our feeding as in the media that we inhabit and use for leisure. One of the features that make it so prevalent is its robustness.
While many other plant families grow only at their ends, grasses have their zones of developing above their knots. This allows new shoots to emerge from the stems that grow in a horizontal direction, either above or below the ground. When we can the grass or when an animal feeds on it, the grasses continue to grow, unlike other families, and thus it is explained that they are so convenient for the industry.
Another difference between grasses and the rest of the plants is that when their stems are twisted, either by the action of the wind or because someone walks over them, they are almost always able to compensate for the damage and straighten themselves by accelerating their growth strategically. This is crucial in the “competition” for sunlight, which distinguishes plants that survive from those that die. Since humans are largely dependent on grasses, their incredible resistance is the property we appreciate the most.
In short, grasses are the most abundant plants on our planet, and they are also the most relevant to our economy. In the words of a botanist specializing in this family, it is possible to compare it with a dam that protects us from hunger. If we ask anyone what was the last thing they ate, they probably include a plate of rice, a piece of bread, or some recipe that includes oatmeal or flour in their answer, so that, simply put, has eaten grasses. The flour It contains wheat, barley or rye, and is present in most salty and sweet recipes. As if this were not enough, sugar cane is also a grass, and it is used in more than half of the sugar we consume.