Central to the management of perennial grasses in traditional range and pasture and advanced biomass energy production systems is having a firm understanding of how grasses grow and develop.  In this lesson module, you will learn about physiology, growth, and development of perennial grasses through animation, text, and video.  It will discuss grass seed structures and functions; the process of grass seedling establishment; morphological structures of grasses once they are established; and how perennial grasses grow. This module is written for beginning agronomy, plant science, and natural resource ecology and management students and will be useful for advanced high school students or introductory-level undergraduates. Extension audiences wishing to learn more about perennial grasses will also find the lesson helpful.

At the completion of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Define the word "tiller"
  • Identify the three structures that make up a leaf
  • Identify and explain the difference between vegetative and reproductive tillers
  • Compare and contrast rhizomes and stolons
  • Identify traits that distinguish a sod-forming grass from a bunchgrass
  • List the different inflorescence types
  • Name three functions of roots
  • Quantify developmental stage of grasses
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Development of this lesson was supported in part by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30411 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.