Grasses are classified within a subgroup of flowering plants called monocotyledons. This group is defined by having vascular tissues, fibrous roots and parallel veined leaves. Within this group, all true grasses are further classified within the order graminales; loosely defined by having inconspicuous flowers and having seed pods as fruit. Within these parameters, grass species have developed unique structures and adaptions for survival within different climate regions. Identifying grasses requires careful observation of the surrounding environment and specific structures on the grass plant.
Look at a map. Warm-season grasses are found in southern regions and cool-season grasses are found in northern regions. If you are located within the mid-latitudes of the U.S. you are within the transitional zone, where both types of grasses can grow.
Observe the local environment. Determine whether the grass is growing in full sunlight or shade. Shady, moist lowland areas are home to different varieties of grass than sunny, dry locations.
Determine how the grass spreads. Clumping grasses spread primarily by seed pods and form visible mounds with bare patches in between. Creeping grasses, on the other hand, spread by underground rhizomes or above ground stolons and form a dense, even ground cover.
Observe the grass blades to identify if the texture is coarse, fine, hairy, smooth, rolled or flat.These identifying characteristics can be helpful in identifying two closely related varieties.
Consult a plant reference guide with the above information readily available. Your large and small scale observations will allow you to narrow your search and identify a specific grass plant.