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How to identify grass type

Embarking on the journey of identifying grass types transforms a seemingly mundane part of our landscape into a world brimming with diversity and intrigue. Grasses, with their varied textures, colors, and growth patterns, play a crucial role in landscaping, agriculture, and ecosystem balance. Whether you are a homeowner striving for the perfect lawn, a gardener cultivating diverse plant life, or an ecologist studying native species, developing a keen eye for grass identification is invaluable. This process entails observing intricate details, understanding growth habits, and sometimes, conducting a bit of botanical detective work.

How to identify grass type by picture

Identifying grass types can be a bit challenging since there are so many different species and varieties. However, there are several characteristics you can look at to help determine the type of grass you have. Here’s a guide to help you identify grass types:

1. Look at the Leaf Blade:

  • Shape: Some grasses have flat blades, while others are folded or rolled.
  • Width: Blades can be fine, medium, or wide.
  • Texture: Some grasses have smooth blades, while others are rough on one or both sides.
  • Color: Grass color can range from light green to dark green, or even bluish-green.
  • Veins: Look at the pattern of veins on the blade. Some grasses have parallel veins, while others have a more complex pattern.
  • Tip Shape: The tip of the grass blade can be pointed, rounded, or boat-shaped.
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2. Check the Ligule:

The ligule is an important feature for grass identification. It is a small flap or series of hairs located at the junction where the leaf blade meets the leaf sheath. Here’s how you can check and interpret the ligule to aid in grass identification:

Steps to Examine the Ligule:

  1. Find the Ligule: Gently pull the leaf blade away from the stem to expose the ligule at the base of the blade.
  2. Observe the Ligule’s Form: Look at the shape, size, and texture of the ligule.
    • Membranous Ligule: A thin, papery structure that may be tall or short.
    • Hairy Ligule: A series of hairs instead of a membranous structure.
    • Absent Ligule: Some grasses do not have a ligule.

Common Ligule Types and Associated Grasses:

  • Membranous and Tall: Often found in grasses like Kentucky bluegrass.
  • Membranous and Short: Common in grasses like tall fescue.
  • Hairy: Can be found in grasses like perennial ryegrass.
  • Absent: Some varieties of Bermuda grass and zoysia grass lack a distinct ligule.


  • The ligule can be an important identifying feature, but it is often small and can require a magnifying glass to see clearly.
  • The condition of the ligule (whether it’s worn or damaged) can also impact its appearance, so it’s best to check several examples if possible.
  • It’s important to use the ligule in conjunction with other characteristics for accurate identification since some grass species can have similar ligules.

Using the Ligule for Identification:

Once you’ve observed the ligule, you can compare your findings to a grass identification guide or database. These resources often provide detailed descriptions and images of different grass species, including their ligules, to aid in identification.

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3. Look at the Auricles:

Auricles are another important feature to consider when identifying grasses. They are small appendages that can be found at the base of the leaf blade, where it attaches to the leaf sheath. Here is how you can examine them:

Steps to Examine the Auricles:

  1. Locate the Auricles: Look at the base of the leaf blade, right where it wraps around the stem. You might need to gently pull the leaf blade away from the stem to get a good look.
  2. Observe the Shape and Size:
    • Claw-like or Pointed Auricles: These extend outwards from the base of the leaf blade and can wrap around the stem. They are prominent in grasses like wheat.
    • Short and Stubby Auricles: These are small and do not extend far from the base of the leaf blade.
    • Absent Auricles: Some grasses do not have visible auricles.
  3. Note the Texture and Hairiness:
    • Some auricles might be smooth, while others could be hairy.
  4. Check Multiple Leaves:
    • To get an accurate idea of the grass’s characteristics, check the auricles on several different leaves.

Common Grass Types and Their Auricles:

  • Wheat: Prominent, claw-like auricles.
  • Barley: Long, clasping auricles with hairs.
  • Rye Grass: Short, stubby, and often claw-like auricles.
  • Bermuda Grass: Typically no auricles.


  • Like the ligule, auricles can be quite small and might require a magnifying glass to see clearly.
  • They can be damaged or worn, so it’s best to check several examples.

Using Auricles for Identification:

  • Once you’ve observed the auricles, compare your findings to a grass identification guide or database. These resources should provide detailed descriptions and images to help you identify the grass based on its auricles and other characteristics.

4. Examine the Collar:

The collar region of a grass plant is another crucial area to examine when trying to identify grass types. The collar is located on the outer side of the leaf at the junction of the leaf blade and leaf sheath. Here’s how to examine it:

Steps to Examine the Collar:

  1. Locate the Collar: Gently pull the leaf blade away from the stem to better view the collar region.
  2. Observe the Shape and Width:
    • The collar may be broad or narrow, and it could be continuous or divided.
    • Some grasses have a collar that is visibly notched.
  3. Check for Hairs or Membranes:
    • Some grass species have hairs on the collar, while others may have a membranous ligule extending from the collar region.
  4. Note the Color and Texture:
    • The collar might have a different color or texture compared to the rest of the leaf.
  5. Compare Both Sides of the Collar:
    • Look at the collar region on both sides of the leaf midrib (the central vein of the leaf), as there can be differences that aid in identification.

Common Grass Types and Their Collars:

  • Kentucky Bluegrass: Narrow collar, often divided, smooth.
  • Tall Fescue: Broad collar, continuous.
  • Bermuda Grass: Hairy collar, notched.
  • Ryegrass: Narrow, continuous collar, smooth.


  • The collar is a small region, and like other grass features, it might require a magnifying glass for a close examination.
  • Examining several leaves from different parts of the plant will provide a more accurate identification.

Using the Collar for Identification:

  • With your observations in hand, refer to a grass identification guide or online database. Look for descriptions and images that match the collar characteristics of the grass you are trying to identify.

Grass identification can be complex, and looking at the collar region is just one part of the process. Combining this information with observations of other plant parts and growth habits will lead to a more accurate identification.

5. Check the Growth Habit:

  • Bunchgrass: These grasses grow in clumps.
  • Rhizomatous: These grasses spread by underground stems called rhizomes.
  • Stoloniferous: These grasses spread by above-ground runners called stolons.

6. Observe the Flowering Structure:

The seed head or flowering structure can provide clues to the grass type. Look at the shape, size, and color of the seed head.

7. Consider the Environment:

  • Soil Type: Some grasses prefer sandy soil, while others prefer clay.
  • Light Conditions: Some grasses need full sun, while others can tolerate shade.
  • Climate: Certain grasses are better suited to cool climates, while others prefer warm climates.

8. Use a Grass Identification Guide:

There are numerous guides and resources available online and in libraries that can help you identify grasses based on their characteristics.

9. Take a Sample to a Local Extension Office:

If you’re having trouble identifying the grass on your own, you can take a sample to a local agricultural extension office, where experts can help identify it.

10. Use a Mobile App:

There are mobile apps available that can help identify plants, including grasses, based on photos.

By carefully examining these characteristics, you should be able to identify the grass type or narrow it down to a few possibilities. Remember, having a sample of the grass, including the roots, leaves, and seed head (if present), will give you the most accurate identification.

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