Briza maxima ready for wind

    Briza maxima ready for wind
    Author: Ivan Latti
    Photographer: Hendrik van Zijl

    Briza maxima or quiver grass does its thing when the breeze is light. Silent bells bounce or tremble elegantly on long stalks in a loose cluster. Sounds of silence? Imagined symphony? Their shape, colours and delicate movements do catch the eye.

    Very likely the child’s eye, still full of wonderment when at leisure down a country lane. The first sighting of the unknown form stirs excitement expressed in pointing, shouting, and sometimes picking the dancing fruits.

    Homo sapiens children don’t feature in mainstream evolutionary theory about B. maxima seed dispersal. But there is reason to suspect that Charles Darwin’s thoughts might have rambled in that direction when relaxing in nature with his children.

    He had ten children after all, and they were dear to him. There must have been countryside family strolls, full of energy, keen discovery and questions expressing all that inherited and learnt curiosity.

    B. maxima does grow in England, may have been there in Darwin’s time, less than two centuries ago. For that is how recently the concept of evolution took shape in the human understanding of nature (

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