Lovegrass

Worldwide there are over 100 species of Eragrostis. Derived from the Greek, Eragrostis translates to love grass (“eros” meaning “love” and “agrostis” meaning a “kind of grass”). So technically, all of the species in this genus are “lovegrasses”. I originally learned that the common name for Eragrostis cilianensis was lovegrass. Many reference materials also call this species lovegrass. I continue to use that name even though it may not be absolutely correct. Other colloquial names for this species are stinkgrass and candy-grass.

Introduced from Eurasia, lovegrass has spread throughout North America and can be found in fields, disturbed soils, other waste places and along roadsides. A vigorous plant that can produce thousands of seeds, lovegrass is invasive and is often considered a noxious weed.

An annual, lovegrass has minute blister-like glands on its foliage that produce a strong scent when fresh. The leaves are often folded and the ligule (outgrowth at the base of the grass blade) is a fringe of straight hairs. The inflorescence of lovegrass does not have awns (bristlelike appendages). Lovegrass seeds shatter at maturity and resemble tiny, naked, egg-shaped grains.

Lovegrass has little forage value. Cattle avoid eating lovegrass. There are also a few reports that lovegrass may be poisonous to horses if eaten in quantity. This is entirely speculation on our part, but Leonard and I were wondering if the lovegrass scent evolved as a protective strategy. Without awns, wildlife and livestock should find lovegrass palatable, but they do not graze extensively on this grass. The musty odor may resemble decaying grass, which grazers tend to avoid.

Eragrostis megastachya is another scientific name for E. cilianensis.

These plants were growing near our house in Lookout CA (Modoc County).

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3 Responses to Lovegrass

  1. Yes, I understand the advantage of shooting with a telephoto vs. a macro.

  2. I like these studies. I really like the close-up of the spikelets. They are true studies of the grass, profiles of its morphology and habit. The idea about the coin to show scale is great. I have had to photograph 3/8th of an inch flowers and I probably should have used a coin to show a sense of scale.

    I have yet to delve into the grasses. They are so diverse. I don’t know if you use a macro lens a lot, but I do, and my biggest challenge is getting good depth-of-field with minute flowers. The wind is also a big challenge. My blog is now is almost exclusively about flora, except I have created categories of all other subjects (animals of course) and I put them on the top menu.

    • gingkochris says:

      Thankfully my husband, Leonard, is good at grasses and a big help.They are difficult for me! Although I have a digital camera, my lenses are from the 70s. I often use a 200 mm lens (OK, in part because I do not want to change lenses) and photograph plants from about 8 feet away. Even with tiny flowers the depth of field turns out quite well. I am a complete amateur and have no illusions about the quality of my photos – simply having fun and learning.

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