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Grass Identification Diagrams and Definitions

Grass Identification Terms:

  • Vernation - The arrangement of the youngest leaf in the bud shoot, either rolled or folded.
  • Ligule - Membranous or hairy appendage located on the upper surface of the grass leaf at the junction of the leaf and blade. Either absent to short, membranous or fringe of hairs.
  • Auricles - Claw-like appendages occurring in pairs at the base of the leaf blade or at the apex of the leaf sheath. claw-like, short, or absent.
  • Leaf Tip - The flattened portion of the leaf located above the sheath. Either pointed, boat-shaped, blunt/rounded.
  • Leaf Sheath - The tubular basal portion of the leaf that encloses the stem.
  • Leaf Surface - The flattened portion of the leaf located above the sheath. Smooth, rigid, sparsely hairy, hairy.
  • Mid Rib - The main vein in the center of the leaf blade. Present or absent.
  • Collar - A light-colored, often yellow-green, band of tissue located at the junction of the blade and sheath on the back-side of the leaf blade. Divided, broad or narrow
  • Seed head - Also called the inflorescence, the flowering portion of a shoot; includes the spikelets and the supporting axis or branch stem. Spike, pannicle or raceme
  • Crown - Highly compressed stem located at the base of a vegetative aerial shoot. The portion of the plant most responsible for growth.

Grass Identification Diagram

Diagram of Grass Plant

Growth Habit

A key characteristic that will aid you in grass identification is Growth habit.

Growth habit describes the type of shoot growth and also determines a species ability to spread out from the parent plant to form a lawn. There are three basic types: Bunch-type, rhizomatous and stoloniferous.

Grass Identification, Bunch-Type

Bunch-type grasses spread exclusively by the production of tillers. They will form a uniform lawn with sufficient seeding rates. When seeding rates are too low, small clumps are formed creating a non-uniform lawn. Common cool season lawn grasses with bunch-type growth are perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, hard fescue, and chewings fescue.

Grass Identification, Stoloniferous

Stoloniferous grasses spread by above-ground, lateral stems called stolons, that creep over the ground. New shoots grow along the stolons as they spread. Stoloniferous lawns appear to their aerial shoots growing laterally along the ground. Bermudagrass and St. Augustinegrass are examples of stoloniferous lawns.

Grass Identification - Rhizomatous

Rhizomatous grasses spread by below ground stems known as rhizomes. The rhizome terminate and form new shoots at positions away from the mother plant. As these new shoots mature they will also produce rhizomes that form new shoots creating a uniform lawn. Kentucky bluegrass is a common rhizomatous lawn.

Need help identifying your lawn grass? Ask your questions here.

You might like these common lawn species:

  • Buffalo Grass Lawns Buchloe dactyloides

    A warm-season perennial grass that is a good choice for low maintenance landscapess. Buffalo grass is the only native grass species widely used in lawns.

  • Bermuda Grass Lawn Care, Types, Planting and Maintenance

    What is Bermuda grass? Hybrid vs. Common, uses and the best types for home lawns. How to plant and care for a Bermudagrass lawn. Helpful DIY tips and advice for planting and growing grass.

  • Zoysia Grass

    Is zoysia grass perfect for home lawns? It's beautiful when properly maintained. If you are lucky enough to live in an climate suitable for growing warm-season grasses, zoysia might be the best choice.

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