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.