Grasses and sedges are an extremely large group of flowering plants. This order contains over 16 families and well over 20,000 different species. The order is named after the hugely important grass family, Poaceae, which includes such agricultural heavyweights as maize, rice and wheat. Other members include the bromeliads, rushes and pipeworts. Flowers are typically small and wind-pollinated, but can be more showy, for example the pineapple plant. They are all monocotyledons (they have a single seed-leaf) and produce seeds that are generally starchy.
Scientific name: Poales
The following habitats are found across the Grasses and sedges distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
The Poales are a large order of flowering plants in the monocotyledons, and includes families of plants such as the grasses, bromeliads, and sedges. Sixteen plant families are currently recognized by botanists to be part of Poales.
The earliest fossils attributed to the Poales date to the late Cretaceous period about 66 million years ago, though some studies (e.g., Bremer, 2002) suggest the origin of the group may extend to nearly 115 million years ago, likely in South America. The earliest known fossils include pollen and fruits. The flowers are typically small, enclosed by bracts, and arranged in inflorescences (except in the genus Mayaca, with solitary terminal flowers). The flowers of many species are wind pollinated; the seeds usually contain starch. The APG III system (2009) accepts the order and places it in a clade called commelinids, in the monocots. It uses this circumscription:
The earlier APG system (1998) adopted the same placement, although it used the spelling "commelinoids", and used the following circumscription (i.e., it did not include the plants in families Bromeliaceae and Mayacaceae in the order):
The morphology-based Cronquist system did not include an order named Poales, assigning these families to the orders Bromeliales, Cyperales, Hydatellales, Juncales, Restionales and Typhales.
In early systems, an order including the grass family did not go by the name Poales but by a descriptive botanical name such as Graminales in the Engler system (update of 1964) and in the Hutchinson system (first edition, first volume, 1926), Glumiflorae in the Wettstein system (last revised 1935) or Glumaceae in the Bentham & Hooker system (third volume, 1883).