The differences between the three Quaking-grasses in the UK:
All three rattle inside when shaken because of the loose seeds within the ripe fruit.
- Greater Quaking-grass (Briza major) Height 75cm, florets: <15, 8-25mm, light-green with dark-purple top
- Quaking-Grass (Briza maxima) Height 75cm, florets: >20, 4-7mmm, dark-purple + light-green
Lesser Quaking-grass (Briza minor) Height 60cm, florets :>20, 2.5-5mm, light-green
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature : the rattling of loose things inside the florets
The florets are pale-green to begin with going straw-coloured later as it matures. The tops are a dark-red/purple colour. As with all quaking grasses, the florets are heart-shaped, hanging pendant upon very thin stalks and they rattle with things shaking about loose inside. In keeping with it's maggoty appearance, one common name for Greater Quaking Grass is Blowfly Grass; it has many others.
It is a non-native plant from the Mediterranean and used as a garden plant here from where it can escape, and is naturalised in the UK in several areas. In the UK it is classified as a neophyte; only Quaking-grass is native to the UK, Lesser Quaking-grass is an Archaophyte, having existed since the Middle Ages with uncertain status as a native.