categoryZGrasses Grasses List 

GREATER QUAKING-GRASS

Briza maxima

Grasses Family [Poaceae]

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category
category8Grasses
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8green
inner
inner8purple
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ0
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round

23rd May 2008, Shell Island, West Wales coast. Photo: © RWD
Growing wild near the coast in a wettish area.


23rd May 2008, Shell Island, West Wales coast. Photo: © RWD
There are less than 15 pale-green florets pendant upon thin branched and yielding stalks.


23rd May 2008, Shell Island, West Wales coast. Photo: © RWD
They look like some king of maggot. The floret is without awns, and is somewhat double-barrelled with a pointed bottom and two deep-reddish-purple 'heads' atop.


23rd May 2008, Shell Island, West Wales coast. Photo: © RWD
Suspended by a single thin stalk from the centre of the double-top.


23rd May 2008, Shell Island, West Wales coast. Photo: © RWD
The florets are somewhat flattened in one direction, with alternately over-lapping lemmas which are rounded on the top. The lemmas have several thin green stripes on the back, and are covered in hairs. The topmost lemma (if that is what it is) is deep reddish. The florets, at between 8 and 25mm, are larger than those of either Quaking-Grass or Lesser Quaking-grass.


23rd May 2008, Shell Island, West Wales coast. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are grass-like. It belongs to the Pooideae (a sub-family of the Poaceae family) amongst some major cereals like barley, oat, rye and wheat, as well as pasture-grasses and others.


The differences between the three Quaking-grasses in the UK:

  • 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
All three rattle inside when shaken because of the loose seeds within the ripe fruit.

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.


  Briza maxima  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Poaceae  

Distribution
 family8Grasses family8Poaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Briza
Briza
(Quaking-Grasses)

GREATER QUAKING-GRASS

Briza maxima

Grasses Family [Poaceae]