The Order Poales contains 18 families and around 18,000 species of monocotyledenous flowering plants taking its name from the agriculturally important family Poaceae (grasses: 9700 species). The Poales is an ancient group of flowering plants, at least 115 million years old. Flowers are typically small and wind-pollinated, often grouped in spikate inflorescences or loose clusters, but may be more showy in a few families. Seeds are generally starchy and those of the Poaceae form the basis of many agricultural economies and must have been among the first plants to be cultivated and improved by farmers' selection.
The Poaceae (Grass Family) includes the single succulent genus Dregeochloa but is otherwise of immense importance for subsistence grain crops such as barley, oats, wheat, maize and millet. Some species of bamboo produce stout canes which are used as structural materials.