Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tenacious Grasses

Getting out and about in the mountains around Bella Coola in the winter time always reminds me how tenacious a group of plants grasses are.  While we know they are some of our worst weeds, they of course feed most of us through the corn and grain crops we rely on in this world as well.  They are really incredible plants when you look around the world and see the range of conditions they grow and thrive in.  Anywhere around the Central Coast where you find nice sandy bottomed bays and lower beaches the sub-tidal Eel grass (Zostera marina) plant thrives, which is so vitally important on our coast for herring spawing and shellfish habitat. It spends its entire life completely submerged in salt water, including flowering and reproduction while underwater- while it is not in the true grass family, it's closely related to grasses like the rushes and sedges are.  At the other extreme are the grasses which grow on the craggiest peaks of high mountain ranges in the world.  In the summer, the grass in this photo thrive and grow in the Rainbow Mountains of Tweedsmuir Park at nearly 7000' (2100 metres) on a windswept ridge.

Apparently the 6 months of winter exposed to the extreme cold and drying wind conditions aren't enough to discourage these guys.  Thankfully the grass family and its close relatives can survive deserts, below sea level and high mountain peaks and provide so many important things for us.  I'll try to remember that when I'm cursing grass in my garden this summer, I can see through the snow it has survived as well...Grizzly

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