Is grass biodegradable? (7 properties of grasses)

This article shall answer the question of the biodegradability of grass.

It shall also look into other topics such as:

  • The classification of grasses.
  • The importance of grass.
  • The eco-friendliness of grass.
  • The biodegradation process.

Is grass biodegradable?

Yes, grass is an organic material that constitutes part of the plants. The grass is susceptible to microbial degradation once it dies.

Biodegradation is the process by which microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi break down organic tissue into small biomass, producing carbon dioxide, water, or methane.

Heat is also produced during the process of biodegradation and is lost to the environment. 

The main agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi. They break organic materials, using them as a source of carbon to make food and energy.

Microbes can use either oxygen or other chemical compounds to break down organic matter. When they use oxygen, the process is called aerobic biodegradation.

When microorganisms use any other chemical to break down organic matter instead of oxygen, the process is called anaerobic biodegradation.

The products of aerobic biodegradation are carbon dioxide and water. The products of anaerobic biodegradation are carbon dioxide and methane.

The biodegradation process occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and finally assimilation. 

Biodeterioration is the first stage of biodegradation that involves abiotic factors such as light, UV radiation, and water to help in the weakening of the structure of organic substances.

Bio-fragmentation is the second stage that involves the physical breakdown of organic matter into small particles, this is due to the biodeterioration of the organic matter in the first stage.

The last stage involves the fungi and the bacteria breaking down the small particles into even smaller biomass, producing heat, water, carbon dioxide, and methane, with the products depending on the type of biodegradation; whether aerobic or anaerobic.

What is grass?

Grasses constitute the group of monocotyledonous, flowering plants that are scientifically called Gramineae or Poaceae.

The grass plants include the cereal grasses such as maize, rice, rye, and barley and plants such as bamboos, grasses of grasslands ( savannahs, prairies), and grass species cultivated for pasture and lawns.

Properties of grasses.

Grasses contain different properties, some of which are unique to them, distinguishing them from other plant species.

The following are some of the properties of grasses.

  • They may grow annually (yearly) or perennially ( two years).
  • They have hollow, cylindrical stems called culms.
  • The leaves of grasses are parallel-veined and are always alternate and distichous.
  • Leaf-blades of grasses are hardened by silica phytoliths which repel the herbivores.
  • Some grass leaves contain sharp edges which can cut the predators.
  • Most of them, except maize, contains hermaphrodite flowers( flowers that contain both the male and female parts).
  • They have caryopsis fruits; the fruit wall and the seed coat are fused.

Uses of grasses.

Grasses can be used in different ways, depending on their fruits or chemical constituents.

The following are some of the uses of grasses:

  • Grasses are grown as a source of food. Cereal plants such as maize, rice, and wheat provide the most consumed food in the world.

Cereals are the major sources of nutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins. These nutrients are required by the body of humans and animals for energy.

Sugarcane produces sugar and sugarcane juice. It can also be fermented for rum, beer, whiskey, and vodka.

  • Many species of grasses are grown to provide animals with pasture or fodder. Grasses are eaten directly from the land as pasture or can be cut, dried, and used as fodder.

Grasses such as maize and rye can also be fermented to make silage feedstock for animals.

  • Grasses are utilized in industries to make products such as papers, and biofuels.

Grasses such as bamboo are used as sources of construction materials.

Reeds and other grass species are used for the thatching of houses, and wall constructions. Reeds are also used in wetland conservation and land reclamation.

  • Grasses are used in lawns. They are used to beautify lawns with their green color and flowers. They are also used on roads and sloppy lands to prevent soil erosion. 

Grasses are used to make lawns for sports grounds such as football pitches, golf lawns, baseball courts, and cricket pitches.

Some grasses are used as ornaments for gardens and landscaping.

  • Savannah grasslands are home to wild animals

The following are some of the common grass species and their uses.

  • Food-grade grasses: barley, maize, rye, wheat, oats, rice, sorghum, millet, and sugarcane.
  • Leaf and stems for industrial and construction purposes: bamboo, marram grasses, meadow grasses, reeds, ryegrass, and sugarcane.
  • Lawn and garden grasses: st. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, bluegrass, Bermuda grass, bent grass, Bahia grass, buffalo grass, centipede grass, and fescue grass.
  • Ornamental grasses: Muhlenbergia spp grass, Stila spp grass, melica spp grass, Cortaderia spp grass, Calamagrostis soon grass, Deschamps spp grass, and Festuca spp grass.

How is grass important in the medical field?

Some grass species have been used in the field of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy to produce compounds that are used for medicinal purposes.

They include the following:

Bermuda grass.

Bermuda grass is a perennial grass that is rich in metabolites such as protein, carbohydrates, and other minerals. 

It also contains aromatic compounds such as P-sitosterol, alkaloids, flavonoids, triterpenoids, and glucosides.

Bermuda grass has been widely used by traditional herbalists to treat various ailments. They include the following:

  • Anasarca.
  • Convulsions.
  • Cancer.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Coughs.
  • Cramps.
  • Hysteria.
  • Measles.
  • Runella.
  • Snake bites.
  • Urogenital disorders.
  • Tumors.
  • Wounds.
  • Warts.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Dysentery.
  • Hemorrhage.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Dropsy.

Bermuda grass has also been found to contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. 

Lemon grass.

Lemon grass is a tropical plant that is found mostly in southeast Asia. It is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine.

The grass is now grown in Australia, Africa, North America, and South America. According to a study, lemongrass is a common source of traditional medicine in some countries.

The following are some of its medical uses:

  • It is used as a solution for digestive issues.
  • It is used to treat neurological problems.
  • It is used to treat high blood pressure.
  • It contains antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • It has traditionally been used as a pain reliever and a remedy for fever.
  • It contains citral compound which is used as an anti-inflammatory agent.
  • It is used to provide fresh fragrance in soaps, disinfectants, and insect repellants.
  • It is used to promote body detoxification.
  • Lemon grass can help reduce stomach disorders.
  • It can help one in getting rid of obesity.
  • It helps in the control of diabetes.
  • It is said to relieve menstrual pains.
  • It helps to boost immunity and also helps in burning fats.
  • It is an effective antiseptic agent.

Lemon grass can be used in tea either as fresh cuts from stalks or as a processed compound.

It contains important compounds that are helpful to the body. Nutritional elements in lemon grass include; iron, calcium, and vitamin C.

Is grass eco-friendly?

Yes, grasses are very eco-friendly. They are very essential in maintaining a conducive and healthy environment.

Some grass species are used in lawns and gardens to beautify the environment. 

Grasses are used on the sides of the roads to prevent soil erosion, and therefore, maintain the soil structure of the environment.

Higher grass plants such as bamboo and reeds are important agents in regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment, and therefore reducing carbon pollution.

Grasses are sustainable sources of biofuels and other products such as papers. This reduces the use of crude oil which results in environmental pollution.

Conclusion.

This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of grass.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Types of grasses.
  • Applications of grasses.
  • Properties of grasses.
  • Medical application of grasses.
  • Eco-friendliness of grasses.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is grass biodegradable?

What are the three examples of biodegradable?

Biodegradable materials are organic substances that include the following:

  • Human and animal wastes.
  • Plants products such as wood and food wastes.
  • Dead organisms.

Are leaves and grass biodegradable?

Yes, leaves and grass are biodegradable materials because they are natural, organic products of plants.

Which is not biodegradable waste?

Most materials that are not produced by plants or animals are non-biodegradable. They include the following:

  • Plastics.
  • Wires.
  • Glasses.
  • Polythene papers.
  • Metals.

Citations.

Christenhusz, M.J.M.; Byng, J.W. (2016). “The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase”. Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1. 

Piperno, Dolores R.; Sues, Hans-Dieter (18 November 2005). “Dinosaurs Dined on Grass”. Science. 310 (5751): 1126–1128. doi:10.1126/science.1121020. 

Annette McDermott. (August 9, 2019). 10 Reasons to Drink Lemongrass Tea. An article on Healthline.

Retrieved from:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/lemongrass-tea

Kandwal, Manish K.; Sharma, M. L. (2011). “Cynodon dactylon (L) Pers. : a self-treatment grass for dogs”. Current Science. 101 (5): 619–621. JSTOR 24078622. Retrieved 23 March 2021.

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