Wheat ear close-up photograph showing arrangement of the rows of seed grains which are ripening but still with some green colouring showing that they are not yet ready to harvest (1)

Wheat is a grass. Grasses are the most abundant and important of flowering plants. Whether growing naturally and unimproved, or artificially developed and grown as a cereal crop, they are a major source of food for animals and people alike. Not only the seeds but also various other parts of grasses and cereal crops have myriads of uses. 

The grain from wheat, barley, oats, and rye, for example, is nutritionally valuable and used as a major component of many familiar foodstuffs like bread, pastry, and pasta, as well as alcoholic drinks like beer and spirits. Grasses such as citronella and lemon grass yield aromatic oils by distillation.  Less familiar uses for grasses and grains include the manufacturing of  goods like adhesives, cosmetics, plastics, and oils.  

The ear of wheat, or the head of wheat as it is sometimes called, is the terminal part of the long leafy stalk that bears the seeds or wheat grains. Looked at from one angle, you can see that the grains are arranged in rows of upto four across the head. From another angle the wheat ear looks quite different because the rows of seeds are two deep – one row on each side of the stem.

Wheat ear close-up photograph showing arrangement of the ripe seed grains that have turned to yellow (2)

Wheat ear close-up photograph showing arrangement of the seed grains that are ripening but not yet ready to harvest (3)

Wheat ear from another angle showing that the rows of seeds are two-deep - close-up photograph showing arrangement of the seed grains (4)

Wheat ear from another angle showing that the rows of seeds are two-deep - close-up photograph showing arrangement of the seed grains (5)

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

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