Quaking Grass (genus Briza) is one of our most attractive and easily recognized wild grasses because of its delicate branched head of trembling or 'quaking' spikelets, which are greenish-yellow, often with a sheen and tinged purple. It is a perennial, tufted with smooth, flat, slightly greyish-green leaves. Its foliage usually remains short at the bottom of a sward, particularly in a mixed or grazed sward. The flowering stems grow up to a height of up to 20 inches (50 cm) in June.
Quaking Grass is most frequently found growing in unimproved, species-rich, well-managed grassland on infertile calcareous soils and favoring well-drained slopes. However, it also occurs in and can be quite abundant in old meadows and pastures on neutral and sometimes acidic soils and the drier parts of some wet grassland.
It is a slow-growing non-competitive grass that relies on soil nutrient stress combined with mowing and/or grazing to moderate competition from more vigorous grasses. However, in exceptional circumstances on banks where the soil is very poor, calcareous, and free-draining, and possibly where grazing and trampling have helped eliminate taller grasses, it can become the most abundant grass.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Quaking Grass has no special germination requirements and so can be sown at any time of the year to raise plants. As with most grass seeds, this means that seeds can also be sown successfully on open ground in both fall and spring. However, our experience of sowing quaking grass in the field suggests that it is unusual to produce a better establishment from autumn versus a spring sowing.
It is slow-growing grass and so will take time to establish from seed. Therefore, it is best sown in small quantities to add interest as a minor mixture component, with the main ground cover provided by other companion grass species.
As Quaking Grass is not a very competitive grass, it does require good grassland management (mowing and grazing) to maintain its presence in a mixed sward, particularly on better soils. Neglect or even regular late hay cutting will allow taller grasses the opportunity to outgrow and shade it out. Also, while Quaking Grass does produce side shoots, it does not spread laterally very much, so it is dependent on self-seeding into gaps created by good management to maintain itself or increase in a mixed sward.
On drier open impoverished substrates (such as shallow green roofs), its ability to cope with stress means it can survive and grow with little attention.
Quaking Grass is slow-growing, so while its foliage is quite palatable to livestock and easy to mow, it is not productive grass and does not contribute much to grazing or hay yields.
- Back to genus Briza
- Plantpedia: Browse flowering plants by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, or Origin
We participate in the Amazon Services, LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites.