Grass Class a smash!

“Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints when the cops aren’t around.”  Dr. Charles M. Allen, October 2014

Just returned from three days of sorting out the glumes, lemmas and spikelets of native grasses and their associates at the first invitational Charles M. Allen Native Grass Class. I’m a little conflicted as to which part of the class was the best: the course work, the food, or the people in attendance. That’s a tough call, ya’ll.

The timing for the course was perfect for me since all of these fall fruiting plants are just becoming available to harvest and because of that, I will add forty or more species to the final species list for my Calcasieu Parish wetlands habitat/ mitigation banking restoration projects. Grasses and grass-like plants seem to be the most obscure and probably the most unappreciated plants but they have an very important roll in sustaining us here on planet Earth.

I am a big fan of colorful, flowering plants but what interests me most of all are these odd-ball native grasses.


The first step of the Twelve Step program is admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion.    …click on photos to enlarge them..


with a hand lens you can determine the details that separate the many species of Rhyncospera


To know Charles Allen’s humor, sometimes you need to really know Charles Allen.


Marshallia graminifolia amongst the Toothache grass in a Pine bog, in Kisatchie


The ghostly Liatris elegans, Pink Scale Blazing Star, huddled up with its pyrogenic grass partner, the demure Thin Leafed Bluestem


the rather discreet but very beautiful Pink Scale Blazing Star


One of my favorite grasses, Pineland Dropseed, a most beautiful thing. Horticultural applications for this plant are numerous. It is the perfect native lawn grass plant, too.


Field Paspalum, Paspalum laeve


….figuring out Juncus dichotomus


Dr. Allen, walking with fellow student Ann, in the field that he and I burned in January


Two very old and outstanding organisms. 🙂 …hopefully I will be one, one day, too.                                           Dr. Allen found this, the largest existing Large Gallberry tree in the world, in Kisatchie, right at the very edge of his property, where his joins the National Forest.


We stumbled upon a very old Yaupon in our travels, too.


Professor Jim checks the pulse of this ancient rippled Youpon Holly, Ilex vomitoria


Dr. Allen leads us through the diverse grasslands of Kisatchie National Forest

Dr. Allen is hosting a Native Plant Identification workshop soon that covers flowering plants and some grasses, etc. click on the link below for information…

Click to access plant%20id%20workshop%20oct%2028-30.pdf




L-DOT decides that Big Al needs a prairie pal

Thanks to the brilliance and foresight of ULL Professor Jim Foret and his former student, La state Transportation Department supervisor Ryan Dugas, the New Iberia-Lafayette area will be the recipients of a cool 1.3 acre Coastal Tall grass Prairie planting just next to Big Al, the massive Live Oak that was relocated a couple of years ago during construction along highway 190.

Ryan, Jim, and I met in the spring to discuss a plan of action to join these two in the holy bond of marriage and since then Ryan has taken steps that will prepare the way for planting this winter. Big Al the Live Oak was moved only because folks came out of the woodwork to fight to save him and as a result, two years later, we have a well-settled-in friend who seemed a bit lonesome up on his knoll. Jim and Ryan took it upon themselves to remedy that lonesomeness. In the spring and summer next year a prairie will begin to emerge as a life companion for Mr. Al. I couldn’t think of a more compatible couple, …those two lovebirds! 🙂


above: Prof. Jim Foret, left, walks up to a very Big Al, with Dr Charles Allen, to check Al’s pulse, a year or so after the move, in spring 2013 (click to enlarge the photo)

The prairie planting will be done just east of Al, in a 1.3 acre triangle shaped arrangement in a pre-Christmas marriage ceremony. Pastorek Habitats, LLC will provide the seed for the awesome planting. All Louisiana’s folks are invited to be witnesses to this nuptial blessing. Here is one of the signs made recently to be placed along the highway shortly after their honeymoon is over. (photo courtesy of Ryan, via Jim)


I hope to see ya’ll at the ceremony! Peace.