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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

27 September, 2015

Wood Millet: a process of elimination

 A number of grass families, the bents, the fescues, the meadow-grasses and others have this familiar 'Christmas tree' flower head or florescence. Close examination of the structure of the flowers, the leaves and other component parts will lead you to the species but for many casual observers, and I include myself in this, distinguishing between grass species can be quite daunting sometimes.
It is here that bringing in other factors that one can start to at least narrow down the choice and so it is with wood millet (Milium effusum). First and foremost this is a species of broadleaved woodlands, especially areas within the wood that are damp, and few similar species are likely to be found in this environment. Next, it is a very tall grass growing to around four feet and that, too, is uncommon for species with these types of flower heads. Finally, the flowers are actually quite distinctive with the branches some way apart and have pale green spikelets that seem to shimmer in the breeze.
There is still room for error even taking these factors into account and botanists will cringe at my generalisation

Read more: Wood Millet: a process of elimination