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Grass plant with roots
Young grass
Thatched house in Iceland
Wild grasses on the Cloridenberg in Calvörde
Grasses are often the first plants to grow over old buildings

As grass are monocotyledonous , herbaceous plants with inconspicuous flowers and long, narrow leaves called. Grasses have a round, hollow stalk or stem . On the one hand, a grass is a single such plant or a non-specific category for the biological classification of such plants. On the other hand, grass is the flat plant cover on the ground (as meadow or lawn ) or the entirety of grass-like plants that are eaten by animals or harvested by the farmer while mowing (see also grassland ).

Grass is the basis of life for many animals, especially ruminants and solipeds . A closed plant cover on the ground greatly reduces surface erosion ( denudation ), the soil is less eroded, and humus is formed.

Botanically, grasses belong to the order of the sweet grasses ; the two most important groups are sweet grasses and sour grasses . Grasses appeared for the first time in the Cretaceous Period , after which the erosion behavior of the affected mainland changed significantly.

Word origin

The German word grass probably goes back to an old Indo-European syllable * ghr , the meaning of which "grow" can still be found today in the English grow . Compare also Latin gramen and ancient Greek grástis (fodder herb ) as well as the designation of the color green , which is probably also due to it.


Botanically, all plants called grass in German (with the exception of the seagrass plants ) belong to the order of the sweet grasses (Poales), namely to the following groups:

  • Sweet grasses (Poaceae) are a family of monocot plants distributed in many species and genera around the world with a stalk articulated by knots , long, narrow and special inflorescences formed as ears or panicles with inconspicuous flowers . The bamboo species that belong to this family are also called grasses, although they have a different habit.
  • Sour grasses are also often called simply grasses. Their stalks are not divided by knots. Plant species from two families are called sour grasses:
  • Restionaceae , a family widespread in the southern hemisphere


Sweet grasses are among the oldest useful plants. All grains (e.g. wheat , oats , millet , corn, and rice ) are sweet grasses. As a staple food as well as indirectly as fodder , the grains of cereals are the basis of human nutrition today.

Grass grown on permanent grassland or grass grown in fields ( arable grass ) is mainly used as animal feed in raw, ensiled ( grass silage , haylage ) or dried ( hay ) form . Hay can also be used as animal bedding . Grass silage is also used as a substrate in the production of biogas . The seasonal harvest of green waste can be estimated using satellites .

Traditionally, grass is used as a roof covering material, which can also be done in the form of a green roof . It can also be used as paper .

“Grass” as a metaphor

Some idioms use the "grass" as a metaphor :

  • Watching the grass grow for "extreme patience" or "boredom"
  • Bite the grass to "die"
  • Until grass has grown over it for "until it's long forgotten"
  • There no more grass grows for "everything is completely destroyed"
  • Pulling the grass (so that it grows faster) for "wanting to use force to accelerate something that takes time" or "being extremely impatient"
  • The grass grows can be heard by people who believe they can tell from the smallest or even imaginary signs how the situation will develop. The phrase possibly goes back to the poetry of the Edda , in whose translation it is said of one of the twelve guardians of the gods that he has an unusually strong sensory acuity and can hear the grass in the earth and the wool growing on the sheep .
  • Smoking weed for smoking hemp

Grass in art

Grass has also gained importance in the fine arts. The artist Hermann Bigelmayr, for example, set up the work of art Three Straightening Stems as part of the Federal Garden Show 2005 in Munich near Blutenburg Castle. The Swiss artist Bruno Gasser has been working on the subject of grass since the 1970s. Claude Simon published the novel " Das Gras " in 1958 .



  • Charles Edward Hubbard: Grasses: Description - Distribution - Use. German translation and editing by Peter Boeker , 2nd edition Stuttgart 1985 (= Uni-Taschenbücher , 233).

Web links

Commons : grass  - collection of images
Wiktionary: grass  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Kluges Etymological Dictionary of the German Language , 24th edition.
  3. Winona Laduke: All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life . South End Press, Cambridge, MA 1999, ISBN 0896085996 , p. 146. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015 Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Accessed March 30, 2015). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Clay Duval: Bison Conservation: Saving an Ecologically and Culturally Keystone Species . Duke University. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved April 13, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ "Holistic Land Management: Key to Global Stability" by Terry Waghorn. Forbes. 20 December 2012.
  6. Artwork Three straightening straws ( Memento of the original from April 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Bruno Gasser's website .