Overview of Gramineae


  • These are herbs, rarely woody, as bamboos. They are very widely distributed all over the earth.


  • This is cylindrical and has distinct nodes and internodes (sometimes hollow), called a culm.


  • These are simple, alternate, and distichous. They have a sheathing leaf base that is split open on the side opposite the leaf blade. There is a hairy structure, called the ligule, at the base of the leaf blade.


  • This is usually a spike or a panicle of spikelets. Each spikelet consists of one or a few flowers (not exceeding five), and its base bears two empty bracts or glumes (GI, GII), one placed a little above and opposite the other. A third glume, called the lemma or flowering glume, stands opposite the second glume. The lemma encloses a flower in its axil. It may have a bristle-like appendage, long or short, known as the awn. Opposite the flowering glume or lemma, there is a somewhat smaller, two-nerved glume called the palea. The spikelet may be sessile or stalked.


  • These are usually bisexual, sometimes unisexual, and monoecious.


  • This is represented by 2- or 3-minute scales, called the lodicules, at the base of the flower. These are considered to form the rudimentary perianth.


  • There are three stamens, or sometimes six, as in rice and bamboo. The anthers are versatile and pendulous.


  • The carpels are generally considered to number (three), reduced to one by their fusion or by the suppression of two. The ovary is superior and one-celled, with one ovule. The styles usually number two (three in bamboos, and two fused into one in maize, rarely one). They may be terminal or lateral. The stigmas are feathery.


  • The fruit is a caryopsis.


  • This is albuminous. Pollination by the wind is most common. Self-pollination occurs in a few cases, as in wheat.

Floral Formula:

Floral Formula
Floral diagram of Gramineae
Fig.1: Floral diagram of Gramineae

Examples: Rice, maize, bamboo, etc.

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