Stalking the Wild Grasses
Characters: Benjy Bear, Foxtail Grass, Crab Grass, Panic Grass
Props: hunt card; 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of flour on stiff piece of paper.
Benjy Bear (holding up hunt card) Oh boy, I love these nature scavenger hunts, but sometimes they can be quite challenging! Hmm. It says, “Find a grass plant.” (Foxtail Grass appears) Oh, hello, are you a grass plant?
Foxtail Grass You bet.
Bear That was easy. Now let’s see. It says, “Look at the stem and find the nose.” The nose?! I don’t see any nose! Wait a minute, that’s silly! Plants don’t have noses! Even I know that!
Foxtail Not “nose,” Benjy, “nodes.” They’re the joints on my stem. All grasses have them. It’s an adaptation that makes our stems very strong.
Bear Oh, wow! I see what you mean. They feel like little hard bumps.
Foxtail Hee hee hee, stop it! Hee hee hee! You’re tickling me!
Bear Oh, sorry! Now, what’s next? It says, “Look at the long, thin leaves.” OK, I see them, now what? “Where are they attacked?” Attacked? Who’s attacking them?
Foxtail Not “attacked.” You must have read it wrong. I bet it says, “attached.” Where are my leaves attached to my stem?”
Bear Hmm, you’re right. Well, look at that! Your leaves are attached at the nodes! Gee, it looks like your leaves curl around your stem, almost like a tube, and then they branch off in different directions.
Foxtail Yup. And they point in different directions so they can all catch some sunshine to make food.
Bear That’s very clever, for a plant. ‘Course we bears just catch food and eat it! Now what else does my hunt card say? “Find the flower.” Well, I guess I’ll be going. Bye, I’m off to find a flower.
Foxtail Wait a minute. I have a flower!
Bear You have a flower? But you’re just green all over!
Foxtail Look right here at the top of my stem – that’s my flower. It may be green, but it’s definitely a flower.
Bear You mean this brushy part up here? But how do you attract insects with a boring, I mean colorless, I mean oh dear…
Foxtail We don’t need to attract insects because we grasses are wind-pollinated.
Bear You mean the wind carries your pollen?
Foxtail Sure. It’s very light so it can float easily on the air, and we make a lot of it. Just give me a shake and you’ll see. (blow tiny amount of flour off paper towards audience)
Bear Ah…ah…ah-choo! I do see what you mean. If you make that much pollen, you must make lots of seeds too.
Foxtail Oh definitely. All the grains that people eat – like wheat and rice and oats and corn – those are all grass seeds. We grasses are pretty important.
Bear Not a grain of doubt in that! Let’s see what it says next on my hunt card. “Find three different grasses.” Now that’s ridiculous! What could be different about grasses – they all look the same.
Foxtail All the same?! How’d you like it if someone said all bears were the same?
Bear Oh no, we’re not! Panda bears and polar bears and grizzly bears – they’re not the same as me at all.
Foxtail Well, there are different kinds of grasses too. It’s easiest if you look at our flowers to tell us apart. Take me for example. What would you say my flower looks like?
Bear Gee, it’s kind of bushy like a fox’s tail!
Foxtail That’s right. That’s how I got my name: Foxtail Grass. Hey, you’re pretty foxy, Benjy!
Bear Yeah, I’m a very smart bear.
Foxtail Now, I’d like you to meet some of my cousins. (Whistles, exits; Crab Grass appears)
Bear Hello! What kind of grass are you? Your flowers are very different from the foxtail grass.
Crab Grass Of course they are. I’m not a Foxtail, you know. My flowers are branched, see, and my stems grow sideways along the ground, not straight up. They even take root along the way.
Bear Gee, you must kind of creep along sideways like a crab.
Crab Grass Yes I do! You want to make something of it?
Bear No, no! I think it’s great that you’re different.
Crab Grass Well, it’s not great at all. Nothing is great. Everything is dumb and boring and ridiculous and a big waste of time, and I’m leaving…(exits).
Bear Gosh, that must be Crab Grass! – really crabby too. (Panic Grass appears) Hello…Gee, you’ve got a nice lacy flower with many branches.
Panic Grass Yes, but they’re very delicate, and they might break off. Or I might get mowed! Oh no! I’m afraid I might dry out. Yikes, I might catch on fire! Heavens to Betsy, I might get grazed by an herbivore! (exits)
Bear Now I wonder what kind of grass that was? (Foxtail reenters)
Foxtail Oh, that’s Panic Grass – always in a panic about something.
Bear It did seem rather nervous! I guess there are different kinds of grass, aren’t there? I just never looked very closely. But what does happen when you get grazed? Doesn’t it kill you?
Foxtail Oh no. Our leaves grow from the base, not from the tips, so we can grow right back.
Bear That’s a pretty good adaptation too. You know, Foxtail, this scavenger hunt has taught me a lot about grasses that I never knew – and I’m impressed. You grasses are really a class act!
Foxtail You mean a “grass” act, don’t you?
Bear Ho, ho, I guess so. Well, I’ve found everything on my hunt card. But I’m still curious, so I’m off to see what I can see. Bye, Foxtail! (exits humming “The Bear Went over the Mountain”)
Foxtail Just like the Bear Who Went over the Mountain, eh, Benjy? Well, good luck then. Bye!