Overview

Brief Summary

The true grasses, family Poaceae (formerly Gramineae), is one of the most speciose plant families, comprising over 10,000 species with a Gondwanan origin approximated at about 80-100 million years ago (although there are fossil specimens that potentially push the origin earlier; Prasad et al. 2011; Vicentini et al. 2008; Stevens 2013).  

Distributed world-wide, the true grasses are absent only in parts of Greenland and Antarctica, and are the most economically important group of monocots, as this family includes the true grains, pasture grasses, sugar cane, and bamboo.  Species in this family have been domesticated for staple food crops (grains and sugar, for example), fodder for domesticated animals, biofuel, building materials, paper and ornamental landscaping, among other things.  Grasslands cover at least 20% of the earth’s surface, although grasses also grow in biomes other than grasslands. 

Grasses are primarily wind pollinated, most have dangling anthers.  They have hollow stems and grow from the plant base, rather than the tip, as an evolutionary response to predation.  Many also protect themselves from predation by secreting silica crystals in their leaves.  There are two main kinds of grasses, cool-season (C3) and warm-season (C4) grasses, which are distinct in their means for fixing Carbon.  The evolution of C4 fixation has arisen independently in 4 of the 12 currently recognized grass subfamilies; a combination of changes in paleoclimate including temperature, aridness, seasonality are thought to select for new origins of C4 lineages (Vicentini et al. 2008).

Genomic duplications are common in the true grasses, and thought to play important role in the evolution of the group as well as innovations leading to diversification of branches within Poaceae (for example, the evolution of flowers arranged as spikelets).

(The Plant List 2010; Prasad et al. 2011; Stevens 2013; Vicentini et al. 2008; Wikipedia 2013)

  • The Plant List (2010). Poaceae. Version 1. Retrieved December 16, 2013 from http://www.theplantlist.org/
  • Prasad V, Strömberg CA, Leaché AD, Samant B, Patnaik R, Tang L, Mohabey DM, Ge S, and Sahni A. 2011. Late Cretaceous origin of the rice tribe provides evidence for early diversification in Poaceae. Nat. Commun. 2:480. doi:10.1038/ncomms1482 PMID 21934664.
  • Stevens, P. F. (2013). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 13, November 2013 [and more or less continuously updated since]. Retrieved December 16, 2013 from http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Research/APweb/welcome.html#Famlarge.
  • Vicentini, A., Barber, J. C., Aliscioni, S. S., Giussani, L. M., & Kellogg, E. A. 2008. The age of the grasses and clusters of origins of C4 photosynthesis. Global Change Biol. 14: 1-15.
  • Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 13 December, 2013. Poaceae. Retrieved December 16 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Poaceae&oldid=585881309.
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There are over 9,000 species of grasses. These plants have leaves with blades on the end and spiky flowers. This family includes some of the plants that are most important to people. These include cereals, grains, lawn grass, and bamboo. Rice is best known for its small seeds, which are an important food all over the world.

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Comprehensive Description

Description

Annual or perennial herbs, rarely woody, often with rhizomes or stolons. Culms usually cylindric, usually hollow but solid at the nodes. Leaves: alternate, 2-ranked, simple, consisting of sheath, ligule and lamina; sheath surrounding the stem, usually open; ligule usually present at junction of sheath and lamina, membranous, a row of hairs or 0; lamina linear to filiform, rarely lanceolate or ovate. Inflorescence consisting of numerous spikelets arranged in a spike, raceme or panicle. The basic unit of the inflorescence is the spikelet, consisting of a number of florets arranged distichously along an axis (rhachilla). At the base of the spikelet are 2 (rarely 0, 1 or more than 2) empty bracts (glumes). Each floret is enclosed within an outer bract (lemma) and an inner bracteole (palea). The palea is usually membranous and 2-keeled, the lemma is usually tougher and often awned. The lemma, palea and flowering parts are together called the floret. Flowers usually bisexual, but sometimes unisexual. Perianth represented by 2(–3) minute hyaline fleshy scales (lodicules). The base of the spikelet or floret may have a horny prolongation downwards (callus). Stamens (1-)3(-6); anthers versatile. Ovary superior, 1-locular with 1 ovule often attached to the adaxial side of the loculus, to a point or line visible in fruit as the hilum. Styles (1-)2(-3), generally with plumose stigmas. Fruit 1-seeded, usually a caryopsis, rarely with seed free from the pericarp.
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Distribution

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Poaceae Barnhart:
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
Colombia (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
  • Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., R. D. C. Ortiz, R. Callejas Posada & M. Merello. 2011. Flora de Antioquia. Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares, vol. 2. Listado de las Plantas Vasculares del Departamento de Antioquia. Pp. 1-939.   http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100008595 External link.
  • Morales, J. F. 2003. Poaceae. En: Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica. Vol. 3. B.E. Hammel, M.H. Grayum, C. Herrera & N. Zamora (eds.). Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 93: 598–821.   http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100008963 External link.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Elaborate stigmas capture pollen grains: grasses
 

The stigmas of grasses capture flying pollen due to their elaborate shape.

   
  "[The flowers] of grasses consist of no more than tiny clusters of dry brown or greenish scales from which the stamens protrude when the right moment comes. Their stigmas, which have to intercept flying pollen grains are particularly elaborate, often shaped like combs." (Attenborough 1995:96-98)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
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Functional adaptation

Leaves resist crosswise tearing: grasses
 

The leaves of grasses resist crosswise tearing due to their composite character.

   
  "Equally impressive is the composite character and consequent resistance to crack propagation of the leaves of grasses, also investigated by Vincent (1982). If a grass leaf is slit or notched it does tear more easily, but only (and fairly precisely) in proportion to its reduced cross section--there's just no sign of any significant stress concentration. Do your worst to a grass leaf--it just doesn't go along with attempts to tear it crosswise." (Vogel 2003:340)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Steven Vogel. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:13,994Public Records:6,736
Specimens with Sequences:10,950Public Species:2,167
Specimens with Barcodes:10,610Public BINs:0
Species:3,370         
Species With Barcodes:3,050         
          
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz369

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz288

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz283

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz277

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz275

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz273

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz272

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.Guadamuz259

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5704

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5702

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5699

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5667

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz396

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz304

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz291

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz290

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5687

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5684

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5679

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5735

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae A.guadamuz287

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poaceae Espinoza5727

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Poaceae

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Wikipedia

Poaceae

The Poaceae (also called Gramineae or true grasses) are a large and nearly ubiquitous family of monocotyledonous flowering plants. With more than 10,000 domesticated and wild species, the Poaceae represent the fifth-largest plant family, following the Orchidaceae, Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Rubiaceae.[3] Though commonly called "grasses", seagrasses, rushes, and sedges fall outside this family. The rushes and sedges are related to the Poaceae, being members of the order Poales, but the seagrasses are members of order Alismatales.

Grasslands are estimated to compose 20% of the vegetation cover of the Earth. Poaceae live in many other habitats, including wetlands, forests, and tundra.

Domestication of poaceous cereal crops such as maize (corn), wheat, rice, barley, and millet lies at the foundation of sedentary living and civilization around the world, and the Poaceae still constitute the most economically important plant family in modern times, providing forage, building materials (bamboo, thatch) and fuel (ethanol), as well as food.

Description[edit]

Diagram of a typical lawn grass plant.
Diagram of a typical lawn grass plant.

Grasses generally have the following characteristics (the image gallery can be used for reference):

Poaceae have hollow stems called culms plugged at intervals by solid leaf-bearing nodes. Grass leaves are nearly always alternate and distichous (in one plane), and have parallel veins. Each leaf is differentiated into a lower sheath hugging the stem and a blade with entire (i.e., smooth) margins. The leaf blades of many grasses are hardened with silica phytoliths, which discourage grazing animals; some, such as sword grass, are sharp enough to cut human skin. A membranous appendage or fringe of hairs called the ligule lies at the junction between sheath and blade, preventing water or insects from penetrating into the sheath.

Parts of a spikelet

Flowers of Poaceae are characteristically arranged in spikelets, each spikelet having one or more florets. The spikelets are further grouped into panicles or spikes. A spikelet consists of two (or sometimes fewer) bracts at the base, called glumes, followed by one or more florets. A floret consists of the flower surrounded by two bracts, one external—the lemma—and one internal—the palea. The flowers are usually hermaphroditic-- maize being an important exception—and anemophilous or wind-pollinated. The perianth is reduced to two scales, called lodicules, that expand and contract to spread the lemma and palea; these are generally interpreted to be modified sepals. This complex structure can be seen in the image on the right, portraying a wheat (Triticum aestivum) spikelet.

The fruit of Poaceae is a caryopsis, in which the seed coat is fused to the fruit wall.

A tiller is a leafy shoot other than the first shoot produced from the seed.

Grass flowers

Growth and development[edit]

Grass blades grow at the base of the blade and not from elongated stem tips. This low growth point evolved in response to grazing animals and allows grasses to be grazed or mown regularly without severe damage to the plant.[4]

Three general classifications of growth habit present in grasses: bunch-type (also called caespitose), stoloniferous, and rhizomatous.

The success of the grasses lies in part in their morphology and growth processes, and in part in their physiological diversity. Most of the grasses divide into two physiological groups, using the C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways for carbon fixation. The C4 grasses have a photosynthetic pathway linked to specialized Kranz leaf anatomy that particularly adapts them to hot climates and atmospheres low in carbon dioxide.

The C3 grasses are referred to as "cool-season" grasses, while the C4 plants are considered "warm-season" grasses; they may be either annual or perennial.

Ecology[edit]

Grass-dominated biomes are called grasslands. If only large, contiguous areas of grasslands are counted, these biomes cover 31% of the planet's land.[5] Grasslands include pampas, steppes, and prairies.

Grasses provide food to many grazing mammals—such as livestock, deer, and elephants—as well as to many species of butterflies and moths.

The evolution of large grazing animals in the Cenozoic contributed to the spread of grasses. Without large grazers, fire-cleared areas are quickly colonized by grasses, and with enough rain, tree seedlings. Trees eventually shade out and kill most grasses. Trampling grazers kill seedling trees but not grasses.[6]

Evolution[edit]

Until recently, fossil findings indicated that grasses evolved around 55 million years ago. Recent findings of grass-like phytoliths in Cretaceous dinosaur coprolites have pushed this date back to 66 million years ago.[1][7] Indeed, revised dating of the origins of the rice tribe Oryzeae suggest a date as early as 107 to 129 Mya.[8]

The relationships among the subfamilies Bambusoideae, Ehrhartoideae and Pooideae in the BEP clade have been resolved: Bambusoideae and Pooideae are more closely related to each other than to Ehrhartoideae.[9] This separation occurred within a relatively short time span (about 4 million years).

Distribution[edit]

The grass family is one of the most widely distributed and abundant groups of plants on Earth. Grasses are found on every continent, and are absent only from central Greenland and much of Antarctica.[10]

Taxonomy[edit]

Recent classifications of the grass family[11] recognize 12 subfamilies and a small number of taxa with uncertain placements:

Depending on the classification followed, the family includes around 668 genera.[3]

Etymology[edit]

The Poaceae name was given by John Hendley Barnhart in 1895,[12] based on the tribe Poeae (described in 1814 by Robert Brown), and the type genus Poa (described in 1753 by Linnaeus). The term is derived from the Ancient Greek term for grass.

Uses[edit]

Grasses are, in human terms, perhaps the most economically important plant family. Grasses' economic importance stems from several areas, including food production, industry, and lawns.

Food production[edit]

Agricultural grasses grown for their edible seeds are called cereals or grains. Three cereals – rice, wheat, and maize (corn) – provide more than half of all calories eaten by humans.[13] Of all crops, 70% are grasses.[14] Cereals constitute the major source of carbohydrates for humans and perhaps the major source of protein, and include rice in southern and eastern Asia, maize in Central and South America, and wheat and barley in Europe, northern Asia and the Americas.

Sugarcane is the major source of sugar production. Many other grasses are grown for forage and fodder for animal feed, particularly for sheep and cattle, thereby indirectly providing more human calories.

Industry[edit]

Grasses are used for construction. Scaffolding made from bamboo is able to withstand typhoon-force winds that would break steel scaffolding.[5] Larger bamboos and Arundo donax have stout culms that can be used in a manner similar to timber, and grass roots stabilize the sod of sod houses. Arundo is used to make reeds for woodwind instruments, and bamboo is used for innumerable implements.

Grass fiber can be used for making paper, and for biofuel production.

Phragmites australis (common reed) is important in water treatment, wetland habitat preservation and land reclamation in Afro-Eurasia.

Lawn and ornamental grasses[edit]

Grasses are the primary plant used in lawns, which themselves derive from grazed grasslands in Europe. They also provide an important means of erosion control (e.g., along roadsides), especially on sloping land.

Although supplanted by artificial turf in some games, grasses are still an important covering of playing surfaces in many sports, including football (soccer), tennis, golf, cricket, softball and baseball.

Ornamental grasses, such as perennial bunch grasses, are used in many styles of garden design for their foliage, inflorescences, seed heads, and slope stabilization. They are often used in natural landscaping, xeriscaping, contemporary or modern landscaping, wildlife gardening, and native plant gardening.

Economically important grasses[edit]

Grain crops
Leaf and stem crops
Lawn grasses
Ornamental grasses (Horticultural)
Model organisms

Grasses and society[edit]

Grass-covered house in Iceland

Grasses have long had significance in human society. They have been cultivated as feed for domesticated animals for up to 10,000 years, and have been used to make paper since the second century AD.[citation needed] Also, the primary ingredient of beer is usually barley or wheat, both of which have been used for this purpose for over 4,000 years.[citation needed]

Some common aphorisms involve grass. For example:

  • "The grass is always greener on the other side" suggests an alternate state of affairs will always seem preferable to one's own.
  • "Don't let the grass grow under your feet" tells someone to get moving.
  • "A snake in the grass" means dangers that are hidden.
  • "When elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers" tells of bystanders caught in the crossfire.

A folk myth about grass is that it refuses to grow where any violent death has occurred.[15]

Genera[edit]

See the full list of Poaceae genera.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Piperno, D. R.; Sues, H.D. (2005). "Dinosaurs Dined on Grass". Science 310 (5751): 1126hor = Piperno, D.R. doi:10.1126/science.1121020. PMID 16293745. 
  2. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  3. ^ a b Stevens, P.F. "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  4. ^ David Attenborough (1984). The Living Planet. British Broadcasting Corporation. pp. 113–4. ISBN 0-563-20207-6. 
  5. ^ a b George Constable (ed), ed. (1985). Grasslands and Tundra. Planet Earth. Time Life Books. p. 20. ISBN 0-8094-4520-4. 
  6. ^ David Attenborough (1984). The Living Planet. British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 137. 
  7. ^ Prasad, V.; Stroemberg, C.A.E.; Alimohammadian, H.; Sahni, A. (2005). "Dinosaur Coprolites and the Early Evolution of Grasses and Grazers". Science(Washington) 310 (5751): 1177–1180. doi:10.1126/science.1118806. PMID 16293759. 
  8. ^ Prasad V, Strömberg CA, Leaché AD, Samant B, Patnaik R, Tang L, Mohabey DM, Ge S, Sahni A. (2011). Late Cretaceous origin of the rice tribe provides evidence for early diversification in Poaceae. Nat Commun. 2:480. doi:10.1038/ncomms1482 PMID 21934664
  9. ^ Wu ZQ, Ge S (2011) The phylogeny of the BEP clade in grasses revisited: Evidence from the whole-genome sequences of chloroplasts. Mol Phylogenet Evol
  10. ^ "Angiosperm phylogeny website". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Catalogue of New World Grasses". Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  12. ^ Barnhart, J.H. (1895) Poaceae. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 22: 7.
  13. ^ Peter H. Raven & George B. Johnson (1995). Carol J. Mills (ed), ed. Understanding Biology (3rd ed.). WM C. Brown. p. 536. ISBN 0-697-22213-6. 
  14. ^ George Constable (ed), ed. (1985). Grasslands and Tundra. Planet Earth. Time Life Books. p. 19. ISBN 0-8094-4520-4. 
  15. ^ Olmert, Michael (1996). Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser & Curiouser Adventures in History, p. 208. Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 0-684-80164-7.
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Cereal

A cereal is a grass, a member of the monocot family Poaceae,[1] cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop;[citation needed] they are therefore staple crops.

In their natural form (as in whole grain), they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. However, when refined by the removal of the bran and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate and lacks the majority of the other nutrients. In some developing nations, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed nations, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial.

The word cereal derives from Ceres, the name of the Roman goddess of harvest and agriculture.

History[edit]

The first cereal grains were domesticated about 12,000 years ago by ancient farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region. Emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, and barley were three of the so-called Neolithic founder crops in the development of agriculture.

Production[edit]

The following table shows the annual production of cereals in 1961,[2] 2010, 2011, and 2012 ranked by 2012 production.[3] All but buckwheat and quinoa are true grasses (these two are pseudocereals).

GrainWorldwide production
(millions (106) of metric tons)
Notes
2012201120101961
Maize (corn)872888851205A staple food of people in the Americas, Africa, and of livestock worldwide; often called corn or Indian corn in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. A large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption. It can also be used for indirect human consumption through the production of the Mexican truffle.
Rice[4]720725703285The primary cereal of tropical and some temperate regions. Staple food in most of Brazil (both maize and manioc/cassava were once more important and its presence is still stronger in some areas), other parts of Latin America and some other Portuguese-descended cultures, parts of Africa (even more before the Columbian exchange), most of South Asia and the Far East. Largely overridden by breadfruit (a dicot tree) during the South Pacific's part of the Austronesian expansion.
Wheat671699650222The primary cereal of temperate regions. It has a worldwide consumption but it is a staple food of North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, most of the Southern Cone and much of the Greater Middle East. Wheat gluten-based meat substitutes are important in the Far East (albeit less than tofu) and said to resemble meat texture more than others.
Barley13313312472Grown for malting and livestock on land too poor or too cold for wheat.
Sorghum57586041Important staple food in Asia and Africa and popular worldwide for livestock.
Millet30273326A group of similar but distinct cereals that form an important staple food in Asia and Africa.
Oats21222050Formerly the staple food of Scotland and popular worldwide as a winter breakfast food and livestock feed. Processed oatmeal in Latin America is often consumed as breakfast/tea/desserts year-round added to bananas (often soaked in previously smashed raw ones) in more gluten-avoiding (like cheese buns) and/or exercise-intensive diets.[5]
Rye15131212Important in cold climates.
Triticale14131435Hybrid of wheat and rye, grown similarly to rye.
Buckwheat2.32.31.42.5A pseudocereal, as it is in the Polygonaceae family, not Poaceae, used in Eurasia and to a minor degree the United States and Brazil. Major uses include various pancakes, groats and noodle production.
Fonio0.590.590.570.18Several varieties are grown as food crops in Africa.
Quinoa0.080.080.080.03Pseudocereal, traditional to the Andes, but increasingly popular elsewhere.

Maize, wheat, and rice together accounted for 89% of all cereal production worldwide in 2012, and 43% of all food calories in 2009,[3] while the production of oats and triticale have drastically fallen from their 1960s levels. Other grains that are important in some places, but that have little production globally (and are not included in FAO statistics), include:

  • Teff, an ancient grain that is a staple in Ethiopia. It is high in fiber and protein. Its flour is often used to make injera. It can also be eaten as a warm breakfast cereal similar to farina with a chocolate or nutty flavor. Its flour and whole grain products can usually be found in natural foods stores.
  • Wild rice, grown in small amounts in North America.
  • Amaranth, an ancient pseudocereal, formerly a staple crop of the Aztec Empire and now widely grown in Africa.
  • Kañiwa, close relative of quinoa.

Several other species of wheat have also been domesticated, some very early in the history of agriculture:

Farming[edit]

A wheat field in Dorset, England

While each individual species has its own peculiarities, the cultivation of all cereal crops is similar. Most are annual plants; consequently one planting yields one harvest. Wheat, rye, triticale, oats, barley, and spelt are the "cool-season" cereals.[citation needed] These are hardy plants that grow well in moderate weather and cease to grow in hot weather (approximately 30 °C, but this varies by species and variety). The "warm-season" cereals are tender and prefer hot weather. Barley and rye are the hardiest cereals, able to overwinter in the subarctic and Siberia. Many cool-season cereals are grown in the tropics. However, some are only grown in cooler highlands, where it may be possible to grow multiple crops in a year.

For a few decades, there has also been increasing interest in perennial grain plants. This interest developed due to advantages in erosion control, reduced need of fertiliser, and potential lowered costs to the farmer. Though research is still in early stages, The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas has been able to create a few cultivars that produce a fairly good crop yield.[6]

Planting[edit]

The warm-season cereals are grown in tropical lowlands year-round and in temperate climates during the frost-free season. Rice is commonly grown in flooded fields, though some strains are grown on dry land. Other warm climate cereals, such as sorghum, are adapted to arid conditions.

Cool-season cereals are well-adapted to temperate climates. Most varieties of a particular species are either winter or spring types. Winter varieties are sown in the autumn, germinate and grow vegetatively, then become dormant during winter. They resume growing in the springtime and mature in late spring or early summer. This cultivation system makes optimal use of water and frees the land for another crop early in the growing season.

Winter varieties do not flower until springtime because they require vernalization: exposure to low temperatures for a genetically determined length of time. Where winters are too warm for vernalization or exceed the hardiness of the crop (which varies by species and variety), farmers grow spring varieties. Spring cereals are planted in early springtime and mature later that same summer, without vernalization. Spring cereals typically require more irrigation and yield less than winter cereals.

Period[edit]

Threshing; Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

Once the cereal plants have grown their seeds, they have completed their life cycle. The plants die and become brown and dry. As soon as the parent plants and their seed kernels are reasonably dry, harvest can begin.

In developed countries, cereal crops are universally machine-harvested, typically using a combine harvester, which cuts, threshes, and winnows the grain during a single pass across the field. In developing countries, a variety of harvesting methods are in use, depending on the cost of labor, from combines to hand tools such as the scythe or cradle.

If a crop is harvested during wet weather, the grain may not dry adequately in the field to prevent spoilage during its storage. In this case, the grain is sent to a dehydrating facility, where artificial heat dries it.

In North America, farmers commonly deliver their newly harvested grain to a grain elevator, a large storage facility that consolidates the crops of many farmers. The farmer may sell the grain at the time of delivery or maintain ownership of a share of grain in the pool for later sale. Storage facilities should be protected from small grain pests, rodents and birds.

Nutritional facts[edit]

Some grains are deficient in the essential amino acid lysine. That is why many vegetarian cultures, in order to get a balanced diet, combine their diet of grains with legumes. Many legumes, on the other hand, are deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which grains contain. Thus, a combination of legumes with grains forms a well-balanced diet for vegetarians. Common examples of such combinations are dal (lentils) with rice by South Indians and Bengalis, dal with wheat in Pakistan and North India, and beans with corn tortillas, tofu with rice, and peanut butter with wheat bread (as sandwiches) in several other cultures, including Americans.[7] The amount of crude protein found in grain is measured as the grain crude protein concentration.[8]

Standardization[edit]

The ISO has published a series of standards regarding cereal products which are covered by ICS 67.060.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The seeds of several other plants, such as buckwheat, are also used in the same manner as grains, but since they are not grasses, they cannot strictly be called such
  2. ^ 1961 is the earliest year for which FAO statistics are available.
  3. ^ a b "ProdSTAT". FAOSTAT. Retrieved 2006-12-26. 
  4. ^ The weight given is for paddy rice
  5. ^ Bananas and oat - Aveia (Portuguese)
  6. ^ Perennial grains being created at the Land Institute
  7. ^ Vogel, Steven. Prime Mover – A Natural History of Muscle. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., USA (2003), p. 301. ISBN 039332463X; ISBN 978-0393324631.
  8. ^ Edwards, J.S.; Bartley, E.E.; Dayton, A.D. (1980). "Effects of Dietary Protein Concentration on Lactating Cows". Journal of Dairy Science 63 (2): 243. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(80)82920-1. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  9. ^ International Organization for Standardization. "67.060: Cereals, pulses and derived products". Retrieved 23 April 2009. 
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Camusiella

Camusiella is a genus of grass in the Poaceae family.


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