This is a very tall grass. The ones I looked at were over 120cm tall. The flower heads are distinctive and spiky looking. Look out for the ‘Awns’. An Awn is a needle like thing sticking out from the spikelet. Awns can be long, short, bent, may not be there at all and is one of the things used to identify the grass. I’ll highlight it in the pictures below. The panicle is whorled.
I had already posted Tufted Hair Grass but it turned out my identification was wrong and what it really was was Annual Meadow Grass. That’s now been corrected. This is the real Tufted Hair Grass. It grows in big clumps looking a bit like the clumps of grass you see on sand dunes with the needle like stems and leaves radiating out like a grass fountain. It’s tall and the thing which struck me was how it changes its appearance when the panicles open out. You can see that in the following pictures.
I was watching as a fly sitting on some flowering Cock’s Foot suddenly took off and kicked off a huge cloud of pollen. At this time of year it’s bad news for hay fever sufferers. The Cock’s foot which I posted about a while ago is now in full flower. Some of it is pale yellow and some is purplish.
According to the book, despite the name it is not usually red except in coastal areas. Notice that the branches of the panicle are alternate along the stem rather than ‘whorled’ which we’ve seen before. It’s a very fine and slender grass. I found it quite difficult to identify and there is a possibility that it’s actually Meadow Fescue.
I had intended to take some pictures of the heads on this grass before it flowered but I waited two days and then it was too late and they’d already opened. The unopened heads are very very neat. Like a tightly plaited pony tail.
You may have noticed that the grasses I’ve shown so far have been fairly distinctive. In other words I can pick them out even if I don’t know what they’re called. Many grasses are difficult to identify, they just look like, well, grass. I decided to bite the bullet and do some hard ones.
I originally posted this as Tufted Hair Grass but now I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. I think it should be Annual Meadow Grass. The book says that it’s one of the worlds most successful plants – so I guess that means it’s quite common. The reason I came to the conclusion that I’d made a mistake is that I found another grass which probably is Tufted Hair Grass.
We don’t have a lot of this grass. It occurs here and there as individual plants. According to the book it is an annual or biennial. I think all the other grasses I’ve found are perennial. I used to think it must be related to oats because it has that kind of look. Wikipedia says it’s a pest in wheat and barley crops and difficult to get rid of. But it looks nice and the flower heads have a very tidy look about them like a gift tightly wrapped up or a swaddled baby.
This is classed as a soft grass. The leaves feel soft and downy and even the seed heads are soft. Yorkshire Fog seems a good name for it.
One of the things I’m discovering about grass identification is that you have to pick the right time. Grasses change as the season progresses so I’ve included a few pictures here to show what I mean. The flower heads are called Panicles and I’ll use that term here.
Cock’s Foot is a robust tall grass. The heads are dense and feel rough and hard. I’ve noticed that in the Autumn when the seeds are ripe that the heads don’t come off easily. The heads are green and some have a lot of purple on them. The leaves are broad and coarse feeling.
You can see why this is called Foxtail. There’s another grass here which has similar flower spikes called Timothy but that appears much later in the year.
Some of the flower spikes are greenish and some are purplish. Some of the purple ones are so dark as to look black. According to the book its Stamens can be orange or purple but all the ones I saw here were purple.