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Omnipresent Grasses
mahendra | 04 Jan 2011

Grasses are found everywhere and they are major source of food all over the world.

WHENEVER WE think of grass, we often remember lawns, roadsides, open spaces and other such places. But, grasses are much more than that:
 
The earth is said to be 4.55 billion years old, life originated around 3.5 billion years ago and grasses evolved around 65 million years ago. However, widespread distribution of grasses on Earth started around 20 million years ago.

Grass family (Poaceae) is one of the four largest families of flowering plants with around 600 Genera and 10,000 Species.

Around 31% of our landmass is covered with grasses, known as Grassland. In addition to Grassland, it also occurs in other habitats. Grasses are more geographically distributed than any other family of flowering plants.

Rice, wheat, maize, barley, bazra, sorghum etc. are varieties of grasses. Of all the edible crops, 70% are grasses. More than half of the Calories consumed by human beings come from Grasses. Grasses are most important raw material for food nd food products industry.

Grasses are most important source of carbohydrates, starch and sugars in food. In addition they provide proteins and many micronutrients.

Sugarcane, a variety of grass, is single largest source of sugars. More than 80% sugar production in the world is based on sugarcane.

Grasses are most important source of fodder for domesticated animals like sheep, cows and other cattle. Directly or indirectly, dairy industry is based on grasses.

Paper production was started around 2400 BC with bamboo and other varieties of grasses.

Upto 1960s, for writing almost all the children were using a pen made up of Sarkanda, a type of grass.

Furniture, mat and jute industry is based on varieties of grasses, like bamboo, jute and munja.

Thatched huts made up of bamboo are common in rural areas.

Grasses provide raw materials for most alcoholic products.

Several scented grasses have traditionally been used in Indian & Chinese medicines.

Rice is a sacred plant in many Asian cultures.

Bamboo is considered sacred in many cultures.

Durva and Kusha grasses are considered sacred in Hindu Mythology. In astrology, Durva and Kusha are thought to control Rahu and Ketu respectively.

Durva is used for all kinds of worship. It is considered a purifier and also used to purify the cremation site. Durva has been mentioned in Rig Veda, Vaman Purana and Agni Purana.

Great worrier & King, Maharana Pratap, ate the grasses (chapaties of grasses) to survive during the war with Mughals.

Almost whole of the wildlife in temperate and equatorial regions, including tigers, lions, elephants, rhino, deer etc. survives on grassland.

Carl Sandburg, wrote a poem titled “Grass” and started with “I am the Grass, I cover all”.

Grasses tell us how to survive even after being crushed under feet.