For a wrap-up of other areas and what’s been blooming, check out:
Blooming in Monument Valley Park – All Posts.
This week, let’s be brave and take a look at one of the many grasses that are thriving in the park this year (grass ID is notoriously difficult!). It is growing in many places, so we’ll start at the parking lot where Fontanero Street ends at the park and walk to the north. We’ll encounter the grass very quickly, but feel free to do the whole mile loop if you want to see just how prolific this grass is.
Smooth Brome (Bromopsis inermis)
If you walk on the path to the north of the parking lot, you’ll soon notice a tall grass on the west side of the trail along the fence. This is called smooth brome (Bromopsis inermis). It is about three feet tall with beautiful brown seedhead spikes on the top. For a sure-fire identification, look at the leaves closely. Smooth brome has a characteristic “M” (or “W,” if you’re looking at it upside-down) crimped across the middle of the leaf. Don’t give up if you don’t see it on the first leaf you look at; look at several. This is quite difficult to photograph, so I’m grateful for the permission to use the following photograph from John Cardina, The Ohio State University, bugwood.org.
This perennial grass was introduced from Eurasia and is grown in pastures for grazing. It is also used for erosion control, since it spreads by underground rhizomes, binding the soil together. If you continue to the north to the end of the loop and then head back to the south down on the middle trail (not the westernmost one by the creek), you’ll encounter several fields full of this tall grass. Not surprisingly, when it grows like this, it provides terrific cover for birds and other small animals (including snakes, so be careful stomping around out there).
From this point you can head back to your car or enjoy the many other plants that are still blooming in the park. It’s been a very colorful summer! Next week, we’ll look at some of the berries that are forming on some of the shrubs.
Text and photo provided by Carey Harrington, Colorado Native Plant Master. (Close-up photo provided by John Cardina, The Ohio State University, bugwood.org.)