Saturday, August 03, 2013

Hairy-brome (Bromopsis ramosa)

Bromopsis ramosa

Hairy-brome, a distinctive, drooping grass of woodland and shady lanes. Now named Bromopsis ramosa; older books call it Bromus ramosus. The genus Bromus is now reserved for smaller annual bromes of the lop-grass type. Anisantha contains the larger annuals such as the ubiquitous Barren Brome. The perennials are in Bromopsis: this species, the much scarcer Lesser Hairy-brome, and the very different-looking Upright Brome.

Bromopsis ramosus has fairly lax leaves, rather like the leaves of the very common False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), but it's a much taller grass, the leaves are broader and the flowerhead is a panicle not a simple raceme. [Compared to the fine specimen here,  individuals in woods are often "starved", i.e. much slighter and with fewer spikelets. ]

My fondness for this plant is mainly to do with it flowering so late. By August there are not many new plants to see around Frome; it's a good time of year for getting up a mountain, or down to the coast. But that's not always possible, so the local newbies (Perennial Sow-thistle, Woolly Thistle,  Common Fleabane) always get a lot of my attention.

Bromopsis ramosa, panicle

Bromopsis ramosa, spikelets

Bromopsis ramosa, leaf-sheath

As if the drooping panicles weren't enough to identify it, the hairy sheath below the blade is pretty distinctive too.

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