Tiny brown wedges float on delicately branched stems like a minute Calder mobile. This is little rattlesnake grass, or Briza minor. The wedges are actually tiered heads, very similar to those I wrote about yesterday that you see on (big) rattlesnake grass. But at first glance, they don’t look at all alike, since the little rattler has heads too small to easily see, and a delicate, lacy structure when it grows.
Like its larger cousin, little rattlesnake grass was also introduced from Europe. Though Briza minor is more widespread, it is less aggressive and is not listed as invasive (while big rattlesnake grass IS invasive).
Rattlesnake grasses are in the Poaceae family, the group that essentially all grasses belong to (with the exception of some plants with the name “grass,” like eelgrass). This is one of the largest plant families, with over 9,000 different species, including many of our vital food sources like wheat, corn, barley, and rice!