Traveller's tales

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Grass: the great survivor

It used to be said that the scorpion was the greatest survivor in the natural world; scorpions were supposed to have survived the testing of nuclear weapons in the deserts of Australia. But I think the title, 'the world's greatest survivor' should go to a much more common form of life.

Ubiquitous, even in deserts and frozen wastes, by seashores and salt flats, grass has managed to adapt to practically any condition on Earth. The only organism better able to cope with climatic severity is lichen, but grass covers most of the land on our planet.

Like familiar lanscape, grass is often overlooked, not noticed - it's just there - everywhere. And yet grass, in its different forms, can adapt to conditions which are too acidic for most plant life, too saline, too dry, or too wet.

Next time you walk across a patch of grass - on a lawn, a putting green, a football pitch, a golf course, a meadow, a lea, a field, a common, a village green, or else clutching precariously to a sand dune, or being flattened by a roller, cut by a mower, stored as sillage, dried in a haystack, being ruminated by cows, eaten by sheep - sit down and look at it - look at the different types, and marvel at one of God's Creations - grass!

Robert Leslie Fielding

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