In June I decided to expand my horizons a little and plants seemed like the obvious first step in my voyage out of the water: I had been based in a museum botany department for five months at this point and was beginning to see the irony that I still knew next to nothing about anything floral. So, with both feet on solid ground, I had a look around and started with the first plants I saw; grasses.
I think it’s fair to say that a lot of grasses look… similar… And as my instructor flew through a list of identifying features, I lost myself fairly quickly in a swirl of short, tattered ligules and un-awned glumes. In truth it wasn’t really until we moved outside, into a small meadow that I started to get to grips with them. I identified a Cock’s Foot and a Crested Dog’s Tail, both quite distinctive as far as grasses go but exciting for me nonetheless. Sun-burnt but happy I finished feeling pretty positive.
I collected some specimens for myself in Loch Lomond a few weeks later and have since sat in on a re-run of the course, adding a few more grasses to my mental checklist. It’s been a rewarding process already and, whilst I am returning to the mudflats for the moment, I am excited to continue my expedition to the Poales.