Abstract

This essay is an exercise in “following.” It tells the story of Cynodon dactylon—better known as common bermudagrass—to explore why people either valued or devalued the grass through time and what the changing social status of one species might tell us about the intersection of biology, ecology, and culture. In the process, it makes two additional points: grasses are historically important, and agricultural history is a site uniquely disposed to uniting environmental history with the history of science.

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NOTES

1. The author would like to thank Tom Okie for his comments and suggestions. Glenn Burton,
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2. Ibid.,
60
61
.
3. Charles L. Flint,
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6
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. On the post–World War II lawn, see, Ted Steinberg,
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. On the current distribution of
C. dactylon
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. On methodological scrutiny, see, Harlan,
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(
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Sept.
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, The Scientist: Exploring Life, Inspiring Innovation, http://www.thescientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/31143/title/Opinion—The-Invasive-Ideology/ (accessed Dec. 7, 2013). S. Mahdihassan,
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45
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,
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in
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39
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63
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20. On grass breeding in the USDA, see, H. N. Vinall and M. A. Hein,
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in
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(
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,
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1102
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(
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:
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American Society of Agronomy
39
(
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69
; Burton,
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, Circular No. 10—Revised (
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:
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; Burton,
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22.
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Plants Database, USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service
, http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=cyda (accessed Dec. 7, 2013); Dara Newman et al.,
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BugWood Wiki, http://wiki.bugwood.org/Cynodon_dactylon (accessed Dec. 7, 2013).