categoryZGrasses Grasses List 

HARD GRASS

Parapholis strigosa

Grasses Family [Poaceae]

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category
category8Grasses
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
petals
petalsZ0
stem
stem8round

22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Here it is right on the edge of the path and more or less on the normal high-tide limit where presumably it has found a niche, away from the salt-marsh plants which might crowd it out (such as the taller grasses behing it) and where the soil is trodden to keep at bay other plants.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
It grows to about 40cm high and has straight stems (although a few might be curved like Curved Hard-grass (Parapholis incurva)) which is much shorter at only 10cm, has even smaller anthers, is rarer and does not occur anywhere near the Sefton Coast.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The two species taken together are distinctive and probably cannot be mistaken for any other grass. It is branched much lower down near the roots and has just a few short leaves.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
It is a very thin, cylindrical grass, tapering to a double-point at the top. Distintively, it is sparsely populated by tiny white anthers which poke out from beneath a spikelet and dance about in the slightest breeze which are also easily knocked off.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Pairs of spikelets on opposite sides of the thin round stiff and hard stems adorn the stems, each with their own tiny dancing anthers. It ends in a pair of opposite spikelets which taper to a point.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The spikelets are alternately at right-angles to each other up the stem. The spikelets are shield-shaped and hug the stem when new.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The stem, from close-range, is not as round as it may at first appear, and bulges slightly at each spikelet.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The grass from above, this specimen has been trampled flatter.


22nd June 2016, north shoreline, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Half-way down the stem it looks like almost any other grass.


Not to be semantically confused with : Hard-Fern (Blechnum spicant) or Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus) [plants with similar names belonging to differing families]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : see photos and captions

It is an annual grass which grows in bare or grassy places beside the sea, but not in it. It is very thin and hard and normally straight with tiny white anthers at intervals fluttering about in the slightest breeze. Sexually it is cleistogamous whereby a plant can automatically self-pollinate itself by means of flowers which do not open. Cleistogamy is an efficient process requiring less energy to produce seeds than the normal routes involving petals, nectar and large amounts of pollen (although the first two seem not to apply for grasses?).


  Parapholis strigosa  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Poaceae  

Distribution
 family8Grasses family8Poaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Parapholis
Parapholis
(Hard-Grasses)

HARD GRASS

Parapholis strigosa

Grasses Family [Poaceae]