Always there and little noticed: Grasses ...
...taken a closer look by our Bresser Junior Team
Here it hums and buzzes, smells and glows in the most colourful colours of the rainbow: welcome to the summer meadow. But have you ever taken a closer look at such a meadow or lawn? They consist of many different wildflowers and grass and cereal species. Between all the pink and red poppies, blue cornflowers, white and yellow daisies or camomile, countless sweet grasses and cereal stalks stretch their heads into the blue summer sky. Summer meadows are also home to many animals and insects, for example bees, grasshoppers and beetles.
No grass, no lawn
But today let's take a closer look at the grass - or rather the grasses - on a summer meadow. We encounter grasses everywhere: from the football pitch to the lawn at the swimming pool to hay fever. Without grass, there would be no meadows, pastures or lawns in the garden.
20 - 30 percent of the earth's land surface is covered with grassland. That is more than the area of the rainforest! Incidentally, many cultivated plants are also grasses. For example, barley, rye, wheat, rice and maize. Wheat is an important cereal and, along with rye, is most often used to make bread or breakfast rolls. Next to it are barley and oats.
Not all grass is the same
Did you know that there are about 8000 species of grasses that can be found in meadows, pastures or on the lawn?
Do what we do and collect a few grasses in a summer meadow. You will see with the naked eye that there are grasses that form spikes, while others have panicle-like inflorescences. Among your plucked finds, you may have found something that could easily be mistaken for grass: the plantain. But once correctly identified, this medicinal herb is easy to recognise from its leaves: This is because the leaf veins run parallel to each other instead of interlinked, as is usual with many plants.
But back to the grass: Have you noticed during your foray across the meadow how incredibly flexible grass is? Although you romp, play, or simply sit or lie on grassy areas, and the grass is flat as a flounder afterwards, it always straightens up again. Why is that?
Let's finally take a look through the microscope to find out!
Grasses under the microscope: Hollow inside...
A look through a microscope shows at first glance that a blade of grass is hollow inside and that there are many fine tubes in the blade wall. Water is transported through these from the root to the tip of the grass. Together with the hollow space in the middle, this special structure is created, which enables a high degree of flexibility. Nowadays, architects also make use of this special property when planning high-rise buildings.
By the way: The stems of grasses are called stalks. Take a closer look at a stalk: You will discover small thickenings at regular intervals. These are called nodes and are something like reinforcing elements that give the culm additional stability. The leaves attach to these nodes.
... and full of thorns and teeth on the outside
If you look further under the microscope at the grasses you have collected, you can see that some leaves are very pointed, almost like thorns. Other grasses have developed hairs on their leaves and stems, and still others have small teeth that look like shark teeth on their surface. Of course, they are not real teeth, but silicon crystals. The crystals are pointed and make the leaf surface sharp. This makes them a natural protection against predators, for example sheep or cows.
Our microscope recommendation
By the way, a simple transmitted light microscope is sufficient for the examinations. Work with the objectives 10x and 20x and you will be able to recognise most of the characteristics we have mentioned. If you already have some experience in microscopy, use a 40x objective. You can also use it to examine pollen - the pollen of grasses. One such microscope is our BRESSER Junior Student Microscope. The special feature of this model: the Barlow zoom system in the eyepiece tube. By means of an additional lens that can be pulled out, the magnification can be continuously changed up to 2x during visual observation, so that magnifications of 40x to 1600x can be achieved together with 3 objectives and 2 exchangeable wide-field eyepieces.
By the way: The student microscope has adjustable LEDs for transmitted light and incident light. This means that the illumination can always be optimally adjusted. The additional incident light illumination also allows objects that are not transparent, such as leaves, to be microscoped.
And now let's get started - we hope you have fun examining your summer meadow. Your Bresser Junior Team.