Why focus on grasses? Grasses are plant species that belong to the family Poaceae. With more than 10,000 species, grasses make up one of the largest most ubiquitous plant families in the world. In fact, 31% of the world’s biomes are grasslands. They are incredibly diverse in size and shape as well. Some species, such as buffalograss (commonly used for turf), only grows 5-10cm high, whereas species such as bamboo can grow to be over 30m tall. Grasses have incredible economic importance, as they make up 70% of the world’s crops (e.g. corn, wheat, rice, barley etc.). They are also used for fiber, and building materials (e.g. bamboo).
Many grasses are good dispersers, and as a result, can make excellent invaders. Their seeds can be transported easily by wind, or by strategically sticking to the fur of animals, clothes and equipment, and transported long distances. Furthermore, because they can grow alongside the grasses we depend on for food and fodder, they may be transported around the world accidentally as a seed contaminant. This can lead to the establishment and spread of invasive exotic grasses across the world.