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    Species complex Aira/Corynephorus High altitude grassland - Andropogonineae


    This is unquestionably the most important plant family, covering 20% of the land. Grasses provide the majority of food for humans and their domesticated animals. In addition to cereal grains (rice – Oryza, wheat – Triticum, barley – Hordeum, oats – Avena and corn – Zea), grasses are the source of bamboo shoots used in Asian foods, the primary source of sugar (sucrose) from sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum), alcoholic beverages from barley (beer and whisky) and fermented rice (sake), and bamboo timbers for construction and scaffolding. The family includes turf grasses and many other ornamental grasses. Some members of the Poaceae form the dominant vegetation in warm and temperate regions where the rainfall does not support trees. The vast grasslands provide food for herbivore mammals which, in turn, feed a variety of carnivores. The Poaceae are a large family including 10,000 species and at least 600 genera. Grasses range in size from small annuals (Poa annua and Mibora minima) to the very tall timber bamboo, Dendrocalamus giganteus. It is difficult to establish the time of origin of the Poaceae because they thrive in dry habitats where fossilization does not often occur.

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