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Structure of a grass plant

How Grass Works

Since I did a little bit of an introduction to turf grass botany yesterday by talking about cool and warm season grasses, there has been further interest from readers in exploring turf grass botany.

There’s no better place to start than at the beginning, so today we will look at the basic shoot structure of the grass plant. Of course there is a lot of variation between species in how these structures appear but the following is a broad overview of turf grass plant shoot structures.

Shoot
This is the basic functional unit of the plant and consists of a short stem with leaves appearing alternately from nodes along the stem.

Stem
The stem is the main trunk of the plant that can take the form of a crown, which is a kind of bunched up stem where all of the leaf producing nodes are stacked one on top of the other or of an elongated stem (stolon or rhizome) that grows laterally either on or below the soil surface with widely spaced internodes from which new shoots and roots can appear. Lastly it can appear as a long upright stalk with widely spaced internodes (leaf producing points) ending in an infloresence/flower which is called a culm; more commonly called a seed head. The main functions of the stem are:

  • sites of buds where new shoots or roots can be initiated.
  • the movement of water, nutrients and food (carbohydrates) between the roots and the leaves.
  • storage of food for emergencies such as drought or injury.

Nodes
These are the bulbous pointsThis content is for members only.