Pendulous Sedge Carex pendula

Pendulous Sedge Carex pendula

I can be as guily as some others by not always paying more attention to the grasses, sedges and rushes that surround us, but you surely could not miss this one!

Down by the river last weekend I came across clumps of these tall and droopy sedges growing on the banks. They can grow up to a height of 1.5m ( 5ft) and are evergreen. The male flowers spikelets grow up to 10cm (4in) long from the tip of the plant, whilst the female spikelets which are pendulous and look similar to catkins grow up to 16cm (6in) long. It flowers May to June.

Pendulous Sedge Carex pendula

Sometimes grown in gardens because of its distinctive and attractive appearance, it is a native perennial which is usually found in damp deciduous woodland, or near shaded streams or rivers. It is commoner in the south of England.

May 2018, river bank, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman. Sigma 18-300mm lens.

Yorkshire Fog After The Rain

Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus

I have always loved this grass which covers the local fields. It ripples like waves on a calm ocean when the wind blows through it.

Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus

Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus), local field, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

Calming Light

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

Photograph of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) taken December 2009, nature reserve, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2009.

About Grasses, Sedges And Rushes

Quaking Grass (Briza media)
Quaking Grass (Briza media)

Grasses dominate the English rural landscape, not just as meadows and pastures, but also as crops which feed man and animal alike. Grasses easily recolonise waste ground and cover waysides and embankments, and mixed meadow-grasses make for a most beautiful summer spectacle.

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

We all know what grasses are like, they are such a common sight, yet how many of us can  identify a single species? Grasses are plants with long, narrow leaves, rounded hollow stems, with small flowers enclosed in a pair of scales called glumes. These flowers form spikelets, either singly, in pairs or more, enclosed by another pair of scales. Sedges, rushes and reedmaces are also similar to grasses, but have their own characteristics which make them differ so.

Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)
Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)


Bromopsis ramosa

Hairy-brome (Bromopsis ramosa)

An elegant, arching grass with long-stalked spikelets. It has dark green, drooping leaves, and very hairy stalks. Perennial Plant height 1.8m. Flower size 2cm.

Hairy-brome (Bromopsis ramosa)

Flowers July to August. It is found in shaded hedgerows and woodland. Common and widespread, especially in the south and east of England.

Photographs of Hairy-brome (Bromopsis ramosa), taken June 2012, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.


Typha latifolia

Bulrush (Typha latifolia)

Also called ‘Common Bulrush’ and  ‘Greater Reedmace’, this is a tall freshwater perennial plant. It has stout stems and grows from rhizomes. It has flat sword-like grey-green leaves, and tall spiky flowers borne one above the other. The female is the thicker brown velvety cigar-like flower, whilst directly above this the yellow flower of the male appears on a narrower spike. In winter or the following spring, the seedhead bursts expelling thousands of light fluffy seeds which are carried off by the wind. Plant height 1.5 to 2.8m. Flower size 15cm long.

Bulrush (Typha latifolia)

Flowers July to August. Found in shallow water or mud on the margins of wetland areas like, marshes, ponds, lakes, ditches, and slow-moving streams. Common and widespread.

Bulrush (Typha latifolia)

Photographs of Bulrush (Typha latifolia), taken September 2011 and March 2014, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011 and 2014. Cameras used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 and Nikon D3200 with Sigma 105mm macro lens.


Leymus arenarius

Lyme-grass (Leymus arenarius)

This is a dense growing, blue-green grass with broad leaves and tall flower spikes. The spikes consist of many overlapping, flattened spikelets. Perennial. Plant height 1.5m. Flower size 35cm long.

Lyme-grass (Leymus arenarius)

Flowers July to August. Found on the coast in sand dunes and upper beaches. It is a primary sand dune builder. Common and widespread on the east coast of Britain, scarce elsewhere.

Lyme-grass (Leymus arenarius)

Photographs of Lyme-grass (Leymus arenarius), taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Common Reed

Phragmites australis

This is a tall and robust perennial reed which often forms vast stands near freshwater margins. The spikelets are purplish-brown in colour, the green leaves being long and broad. It can grow up to 2m tall.

Flowers August to September, but turns brown and remains throughout the winter. Found in marshes, pools, and other freshwater habitats. A common and widespread species.

The Common Reed is an important plant in nature conservation for it supports a large amount of wildlife. It is also used to thatch roofs.

Photographs of Common Reed (Phragmites australis), taken August 2012, country park, and April 2013, nature reserve, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012 & 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Quaking Grass

Briza media

This delightfully named grass is one of my very favourites, especially when it goes to seed. They remind me a little of little hanging oriental lanterns, and the dry whisper sound it makes as a breeze stirs the dry husks is quite magical.

A very distinctive perennial grass, the flowers in an open inflorescence and the dangling spikelets resembling miniature hops or cones held on wiry stalks. The leaves are pale green forming loose tufts. Height 40cm.

It flowers June to September, and it is found on dry grassland, usually on calcareous soils. A native species, widespread and locally common, scarce in northern Scotland.

Photographs of Quaking Grass (Briza media),  taken August 2014 & 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2014 – 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

On The Cliff’s Edge

Photographs of a collection of wild flowers and grasses taken August 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

Wall Barley

Hordeum murinum

A tufted grass which produces unbranched, bristly flower spikes. The leaves are light green, flat and hairy. Annual. Plant height 30cm. Flower size 9 to 10cm.

Flowers May to July. It is found on bare ground, waste ground, roadside verges, field and wood margins, and coastal areas. Common and widespread in central, southern and eastern England, and scarcer elsewhere.

Photographs taken  June 2012, local woodland margin, Staffordshire.

Yorkshire Fog

Holcus lanatus

Walking through a local field I came across drifts of this beautiful grass. It is a variable, tufted grass with grey-green leaves and tall, downy stems. The pinkish-red flowers are tightly packed to begin with, until they spread and open out in two-flowered spikelets. It is a perennial grass, and grows up to 1m tall.

It flowers from May to August, and is found in meadows, woodland margins and openings, and wasteground. It is a common and widespread species.

Photographs taken June 2012, local field, Staffordshire.