Quaking-grass

©Bruce Shortland

Quaking-grass

Scientific name: Briza media
As its name suggests, quaking-grass can be seen quivering or 'quaking' in a breezy, summer wildflower meadow. Its purple-and-green, heart-shaped flower heads hang from delicate stems.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 40cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to September

About

Gently shivering in the breeze, the loose heads of quaking-grass are a distinctive feature of meadows and grasslands, particularly those on chalky soils. Its heart-shaped flower heads dance on delicate stems from June to September, giving the plant many different common names, including 'Totter Grass', 'Dithery Dock', 'Wigwams' and 'Toddling Grass'.

How to identify

The pendulous, heart-shaped, green-and-purple spikelets that contain the flowers of quaking-grass are distinctive - they look a little like miniature hops. They are held in loose clusters on fine stems that quake in the breeze

Distribution

Found in England and Wales.

Did you know?

The seeds of quaking-grass are an excellent source of food for all kinds of farmland birds, including yellowhammers, linnets, greenfinches and house sparrows.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts look after many meadow habitats using traditional methods, such as hay-cutting, reseeding and grazing, for the benefit of local wildlife. We are also working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices in these areas. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from stockwatching to surveying meadow flowers.