HEIGHT to 1m Tufted, tussock-forming perennial of grassland and woodland rides. FLOWERS In an inflorescence of long-stalked, dense, egg-shaped heads that spread and then fancifully resemble a bird’s foot (June–July). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Rough, with slightly inrolled margins. STATUS Widespread and common.
HEIGHT to 90cm Tufted, hairless perennial with wiry stems. Grows in meadows but also cultivated on farmland. FLOWERS In unbranched heads, the spikelets green and without awns (May–Aug). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Deep green, often folded when young. STATUS Common throughout.
HEIGHT to 50cm Distinctive, tufted perennial with wiry stems. Grows in grassland and on roadside verges. FLOWERS In compact, flat heads, the spikelets usually greenish (June–Aug). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Narrow, short, with narrow, blunt ligules. STATUS Widespread and common throughout. Similar Fern Grass Catapodium rigidium has fernlike inflorescences. Dry grassland, coastal and S England, coastal Wales and S Ireland.
HEIGHT to 1.5m Characteristic perennial of overgrazed grassland, mostly on acid soils. Stems are yellowish green, glossy and smooth. FLOWERS Pale brown, in loose or open clusters near the stem tops (June–Aug). FRUITS Yellow-brown, egg-shaped, indented at the tip and shorter than sepals. LEAVES Absent. STATUS Common.
HEIGHT to 1m Variable, tufted perennial with grey-green, downy stems. Grows in meadows, woods and waste ground. FLOWERS In heads that are tightly packed at first but then spread; comprising reddish-tipped, grey-green, 2-flowered spikelets (May–Aug). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Grey-green, downy. STATUS Widespread and common.
Italian Rye Grass
HEIGHT to 90cm Tufted annual or biennial with rough stems and leaves. Often sown to provide grazing. FLOWERS In unbranched heads, the spikelets brown with long awns (May–Aug). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Often rolled when young. STATUS Widespread and common, except in the north. Similar Curved Hard-grass Parapholis incurva is short, with curved spikes. Bare coastal grassland, S and SE England only.
HEIGHT to 1m Softly downy annual or biennial of meadows and verges. FLOWERS In compact heads with short-stalked, hairy, egg-shaped spikelets (June– Aug). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Greyish green and rolled when young, with hairy sheaths. STATUS Common. Meadow-brome B. commutatus is similar but with a larger, more nodding inflorescence and hairless upper leaf sheaths. Unimproved grassland, mainly in S England.
HEIGHT to 1.2m Tough, creeping perennial that grows in cultivated and disturbed ground. FLOWERS In a stiff, unbranched inflorescence with many-flowered, yellowish-green spikelets arranged alternately (June–Aug). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Flat, green, downy above. STATUS Widespread and common. Sea Couch E. atherica is similar but with sharp-pointed, inrolled leaves. Maritime grassland in England, Wales and S Ireland.
Rough Meadow Grass
HEIGHT to 90cm Loosely tufted perennial with creeping runners. Grows in damp, often shady, places. FLOWERS In a pyramidal inflorescence, the purplish-brown spikelets carried on whorls of stalks (May–July). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Pale green, soft, with a pointed ligule and a rough sheath. STATUS Widespread and common. Smooth Meadow-grass P. pratensis is similar but the leaves are green and tough, with a blunt ligule and a smooth sheath. Widespread and common in meadows and on verges.
Sweet Vernal Grass
HEIGHT to 50cm Tufted, downy perennial with a sweet smell when dried. Grows in grassland. FLOWERS In relatively dense spike-like clusters, 3–4cm long, of 3-flowered spikelets, each with 1 straight and 1 bent awn (Apr–July). FRUITS Small, dry nutlets. LEAVES Flat, with blunt ligules. STATUS Widespread and common.