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Monday, June 4, 2012

Rattlesnake Grass in Carmel, CA

Wanting to explain Rattlesnake Grass here on The Flirty Blog I learned four new words: Panicles, racemose, raceme and inflorescence.

Definition of PANICLE: a compound racemose inflorescence

Definition of RACEMOSE: having or growing in the form of a raceme

Definition of RACEME: a simple inflorescence (as in the lily of the valley) in which the flowers are borne on short stalks of about equal length at equal distances along an elongated axis and open in succession toward the apex

Definition of INFLORESCENCE: the mode of development and arrangement of flowers on an axis

Briza maxima known as Rattlesnake and Quaking Grass

The individual spikelet stalks along a panicle of Rattlesnake Grass are so thin and delicate the spikelets look like tiny ornaments dancing in the breeze.

In the spring the rattler shaped clusters of seeds are green but by mid-summer they turn a golden brown.

Where did I see them? At Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel, CA. Hubby and I went to hike and take pictures of China Cove, located by trail at Point Lobos. But the trail we wanted to hike on is closed for restoration work until later this summer so rather than pay $10 to enter the park we decided to check back in July when the trail may be reopened. We'll definitely call first before making the drive down.

After making a u-turn at the visitors booth we pulled into a parking spot to decide what to do instead. As hubby studied Google Maps I noticed right in front of our car was a patch of Rattlesnake Grass.

The seed spikelets look a bit like cocoons.

A popular ornamental, Rattlesnake Grass is a non-native. Originally from Northern Africa, the Azores, Western Asia and Southern Europe it was brought to the U.S. to be used as a decorative plant. After spreading into the wild it is now an invasive species that can be found up and down the California coast.

It was hard to photograph because I was using my macro lens and the wind was blowing the spikelets to and fro. With the motion the camera was unable to focus so my first images came out blurry. I caught them on my hand for a moment to still them and was surprised by their weight. They aren't dense or heavy. They feel hollow and light, like a baked Cheetos cheese puff.

I'll have to go back later this summer to photograph them again when they turn golden brown. It will be an interesting contrast plus I still want to visit China Cove.

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