“Field Guide To Wisconsin Grasses”

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
Wisconsin grasses.
Kelly Sikkema (CC-BY-2.0)

Larry Meiller talks with the co-authors of “Field Guide to Wisconsin Grasses.” Find out how to identify some of the 232 species in the state.

Featured in this Show

  • Biologists Explain The Dietary Importance Of Grasses

    Grasses are not only economically important, serving as an alternative energy source and providing pasturage for animals. They also play an important role in many people’s diets, according to Emmet Judziewicz, coauthor of “Field Guide to Wisconsin Grasses.”

    “Grasses make up 75 percent of human nutrition — either directly, or indirectly through the animals that we eat who eat grasses, in turn,” Judziewicz said.

    That indirect mode refers to the consumption of animals like cows, sheep and goats, who graze upon grass. Humans also consume other things that come from that livestock, like dairy products.

    There are also many other products that humans consume daily that are made directly from grasses, Judziewicz said. The four most-eaten cereal grains in the world — which according to the field guide are rice, wheat, corn and sorghum — are grasses.

    Other grasses important to the human diet include sugar cane, rye and barley, according to Bob Freckmann, another of the book’s coauthors.

    While used in diverse ways, Freckmann said plants in the grass family, known as Poaceae, usually share some similar features.

    “The typical lawn grass, of course, has a lot of the typical characteristics you think of: narrow leaves, the leaves that are alternate on one side of the stem or the other … Typically the stems are round and hollow and the leaves do not have the upward-projecting serrations on the margin,” said Freckmann.

    But botanical characteristics aside, Judziewicz said that, fittingly for Wisconsin, the majority of alcohol is also made from grasses, including rum, whiskey, bourbon and beer.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Cheyenne Lentz Producer
  • Emmet J Judziewiczs Guest
  • Robert Freckmann Guest

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