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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.

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The term is derived from the Ancient Greek πόα (póa, “fodder”).Grasses include some of the most versatile plant life-forms.They became widespread toward the end of the Cretaceous period, and fossilized dinosaur dung (coprolites) have been found containing phytoliths of a variety that include grasses that are related to modern rice and bamboo.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 : Prior to 2005, fossil findings indicated that grasses evolved around 55 million years ago.

Recent findings of grass-like phytoliths in Cretaceous dinosaur coprolites have pushed this date back to 66 million years ago.The relationships among the three subfamilies Bambusoideae, Oryzoideae and Pooideae in the BOP clade have been resolved: Bambusoideae and Pooideae are more closely related to each other than to Oryzoideae.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.) or Gramineae are the large and nearly ubiquitous family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as grasses.The Poaceae include the cereal grasses, bamboos and the grasses of natural grassland and cultivated lawns (turf) and pasture.Grasses have stems that are hollow except at the nodes and narrow alternate leaves borne in two ranks.