Koeleria macrantha is a species of grass known by the common name prairie Junegrass in North America and crested hair-grass in the UK. It is widespread across much of Eurasia and North America. It occurs in many habitat types, especially prairie.
Koeleria macrantha is a short, tuft-forming perennial bunchgrass, reaching heights from 20–70 cm (7.9–27.6 in). The leaves are basal and up to about 20 cm (7.9 in) long with a blue-green color. The inflorescence is nearly cylindrical and may taper somewhat toward the tip. It holds shiny tan spikelets which are sometimes tinted with purple, each about half a centimeter long. Its fruit is a grain that breaks once it has fully ripened.
Growing conditions and habitatEdit
Koeleria macrantha is a plant that prefers cooler seasons such as early spring or fall. It grows mostly in rocky or sandy, well-drained areas within forests or plains. It prefers more direct sunlight over partially shaded areas. It has the ability to grow in elevations as high as 2480 meters and as low as 121 meters above sea level.
Wildlife and farming significanceEdit
Koeleria macrantha is one of many dietary staples for all classes of livestock and several species of various prairie wildlife depending on the stage of its seasonal development. It provides a stable source of nourishment for livestock in early spring and has been utilized by several species of deer, elk, and sheep for a food source due to its ability to grow in remote areas where the environment is not suited for other plant life. Due to the fact that it grows in scattered areas, it has not become a large dietary staple for much wildlife but still provides moderate nourishment to prairie wildlife. It has been found to be palatable to all livestock and wildlife in its post-curing stage in spring and fall but the palatability drops for most species when seed production begins before curing.
Koeleria marcrantha spreads slowly via seed distribution. It will spread into bordering plant communities over time as an invasive species. A number of insects feed on Koeleria macrantha including the Striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata) which feeds on the roots and foliage.
Koeleria macrantha has been implemented in several areas of frequent wildfires due to its fire-resistant qualities. Due to its small size and the coarse leaves, they burn faster and transfer a very small amount of heat to the soil below. It also usually grows in small groups, which limits the amount of damage it can do once it burns. Although this species varies on its impact on fighting wildfires depending on the environment it grows in and the state of the plant, it provides a much needed damper for controlling the fire once it has begun.
Various other uses in societyEdit
The seed can be ground down into a powder then can be boiled in water, like a porridge, or made into flour or bread.
The leaves of the plant can be woven together to make brooms or brushes. Long stalks of the plant can be strung together with other plant fiber or string to be used for cleaning pots and pans. It has also been used as a building material when mixed with adobe for its adhesive qualities and strength.
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- Simonin, Kevin (2000). "Koeleria macrantha". Fire Effects Information System (FEIS). US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service (USFS), Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Retrieved 2017-09-15 – via https://www.feis-crs.org/feis/.
- Koeleria macrantha Research Information.
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- "Koeleria macrantha (June Grass) - Practical Plants". practicalplants.org. Retrieved 2017-09-16.