This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
In all waste places on a sandy soil, near towns and villages especially, the Wall Barley, Mouse Barley, Barley-grass, or Way-bent flourishes. At the base of walls is a favourite post for it, where it collects dust, and generally contributes to an appearance of untidiness. Its bristly spike is well known to the schoolboy, who breaks it off and inserts the stem end in the cuff of his shirt-sleeve, whence it works its way automatically to the shoulder. If the spike is cut across its length, the spikelets of which it is made up may be separated and examined with a lens. It will then be seen that the spikelets are borne in threes side by side, but that only the central one is a perfect one, the lateral ones being barren. Taking this central one from the others, we find two outer inflated scales (glumes) embracing two other scales, one of which, with the cleft tip and two keels on the back, is the pale, the other, ending in a long awn, is the flowering glume, within which is the ovary, surmounted by its two feathery stigmas. From beneath the ovary spring the three stamens and two minute scales, called lodicules, which answer to the perianth in ordinary flowers. It would be well to quite master this arrangement by dissection, for all grass flowers are built on a similar plan.
- Gramineae. -