Poaceae Family Characteristics and Economic Importance

Gramineae (Grass Family)

Poaceae family is distributed throughout the world. It has 600 genera and 10,000 species. There are 158 genera and 492 species of this family in Pakistan. Economic Importance of Poaceae lies for both men and animals. three major characteristics of the Poaceae or grass family separate them from other plant families. it is the combination of three characteristics of the grass family.

Familiar Plantseconomic importance of poaceae

  • Triticum vulgare, wheat
  • Zea mays, corn
  • Avena sativa, oat
  • Oryza sativa, rice
  • Bambusa, bamboo
  • Saccharam officinarum, Sugar cane.

Vegetative Characteristics of Poaceae

Poaceae also is known as Gramineae have some unique characteristics than other families. usually known as grass family, have 12 subfamilies, about 600 genera, and some 10,000 or more species.they are arranged in spikelets, each has one or more florets. the spikelets consist of two or fewer bracts at base.

perianth reduced to two scales( Calle lodicules) expand and contract to spread the lemma and palea. there are some more characteristics are given below:

  1. Habit: Annual or perennial herbs.
  2. Stem: It is jointed and usually hollow at the internodes. It is closed at nodes.
  3. Leaves: Leaves are solitary at the node. They are sometimes, crowded at the base of the stem. These leaves are simple, alternate, exstipulate, and mostly sessile. The leaf bases are mostly sheathing.
  4. Poaceae or grassland are dominated by plant communities.
  5. they are considered the most important plant family to human, in fact, humans are mostly economically dependent on these communities.
  6. Poaceae contributes to human development as staple food grains, animal grasses, cereal crops, lawn and forage grasses, bumboo ( widely used for construction).

Inflorescence in Poaceae (economic importance of Poaceae)

Their inflorescence is compound. The unit of its inflorescence is called spikelet. These spikelets are variously arranged.

  • They may form dense clusters as in the wheat compound spike.Inflorescence in Poaceae
  • They may be arranged on a branched axis-p3n’cle as in spikelets of oat.

The spikelets are arranged on a slender axis called the rachilla. Each spikelet consists of bracts. The lower two empty bracts are called glumes. The glumes cover the whole of the spikelet.

The upper bract is called a lemma. It encloses the flower. A hyaline scale-like bract is a present opposite to lemma. It is called the palea. This whole structure consisting of the lemma, palea, and the flower is called a floret. The glumes or lemmas also contain one or more bristle-like structures called awns.

This basic pattern of spikelet is present in all the members of this family. The spikelets of grasses vary in different genera. However; they have different numbers of fertile florets and different numbers of sex organs in them.

Flower:  Flower is usually bisexual (sometimes unisexual), small, inconspicuous, sessile, bracteate, incomplete, zygomorphic, and hypogynous.

Perianth: It is absent or it is represented by 2 (rarely 3) scales called lodicules. These lodicules are hyaline or fleshy.

Androecium: They have 1 to 6, mostly 3, free stamens. They have delicate filaments. While their anther is versatile.

Gynoecium: They have a compound pistil with three united carpels. Only one carpel is functional. However; stigma usually large and feather-like.

Fruit: There fruits are grains or caryopsis. Caryopsis is a dry indehiscent fruit in which fruit wall (pericarp) is completely fused with the seed coat.

Economic Importance of Poaceae

This family has greater importance than all other families of the flowering plants. Although; it has importance both for men and animals.

  1. Food: All the cereals and millets belong to this family. These form the basic food of mankind. These plants are:
  • Triticum sp (Wheat)
  • Avena sativa
  • Zea mays (corn)
  • Oryza sativa (rice)
  • Hordeum vulgare (barley)
  • Scale cereale (rye)
  • Penlsetum typholdeum
  • Sorghum vulgare
  1. Fodders Most of the fodders of the animals also belongs to this family.
  2. The dried stems and leaves of the cereal crops are used as fodder for the cattle.
  3. Sugar: Sugar ¡s obtained from the juice of Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane).
  4. Ornamental plants: Many gras.es are used ¡n lawns, e.g. Agrostis,
  5. Poa, Festuca, etc. So these plants have ornamental significance.
  6. Used of Bamboo Bambusa (bamboo): These are used as a building material.
  7. These are used for thatching huts making boats, carts pipes, etc. Their spilled stems are woven into mats, fans, hats, and course umbrella. While their leaves are given to horses for curing cough and cold.
  8. Aromatic oils: Certain grasses give aromatic oil e.g. Cymbopogon squarrosus (lemongrass). It gives lemongrass oil.
  9. This oil is used in perfumes and soap industry for making infusions.
  10. Paper Industry: Some species of grasses are used for making papers.
  11. Alcohol and beverages: Ethyl alcohol and many other beverages are prepared from cereals. For example, whiskey is prepared from rye, corn, and rum molasses from sugar cane.
  12. Ropes: Fibers are obtained from the leaves of Saccharum munja. However, these fibers are used for making ropes

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