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Though they are commonly called "grasses", seagrasses, rushes, and sedges fall outside this family.The rushes and sedges are related to the Poaceae, being members of the order Poales, but the seagrasses are members of order Alismatales.Grasses are the dominant vegetation in many habitats, including grassland, salt-marsh, reedswamp and steppes.They also occur as a smaller part of the vegetation in almost every other terrestrial habitat.
The C4 grasses have a photosynthetic pathway, linked to specialized Kranz leaf anatomy, which allows for increased water use efficiency, rendering them better adapted to hot, arid environments and those lacking in carbon dioxide.
Grasses have adapted to conditions in lush rain forests, dry deserts, cold mountains and even intertidal habitats, and are currently the most widespread plant type; grass is a valuable source of food and energy for all sorts of wildlife and organics.
A cladogram shows subfamilies and approximate species numbers in brackets: Before 2005, fossil findings indicated that grasses evolved around 55 million years ago.
generally with the following characteristics (the image gallery can be used for reference): The stems of grasses, called culms, are usually cylindrical (more rarely flattened, but not 3-angled) and are hollow, plugged at the nodes, where the leaves are attached.
The leaf blades of many grasses are hardened with silica phytoliths, which discourage grazing animals; some, such as sword grass, are sharp enough to cut human skin.