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Feather grass (Stipa)

   Feather grass (Stipa), fam. Poaceae.
   An elegant perennial grass, easy to recognize by its tender silver inflorescences, waving in the slightest blow of the wind. It is responsible for typical landscape of Southern Ukraine steppes in the late spring – early summer. However, as there are almost no virgin steppes left in our country, it is easiest to see feather grass in wastelands, and along the railways. In that places it is also found in Kyiv.
   Some feather grass species are valued as fodder plants, including the direct grazing of cattle. Nevertheless, their nutritional value is inferior to many other perennial grasses. Grazing cattle on the pastures rich in feather grass in the second half of summer is not recommended at all, since it leads to "feather grass disease", when the awns of the seeds pierce the animals' skin and cause inflammation. Initially, that feature served just for spreading the seeds around – their long awns fly in the wind, then after falling they preiodically twist or untwist depending on weather. Thus they dig themselves into soil. Unfortunately, they behave analogously when they get in animal's fur.
   There are indications for using feather grass in medicine – to treat thyroid diseases and paralysis. This plant also has some negative sides – an attractive idea to dry its inflorescences as a winter bouquet may end up with allergy or asthma aggravation, because the very small bristles of the fruits have irritating properties, especially in closed indoor spaces.

Feather grass (Stipa) Feather grass (Stipa) Feather grass (Stipa)