Quaking-grass

Briza media

  1. Wildlife
  2. Grasses
  3. Quaking-grass

About

Gently shivering in the breeze, the loose heads of Quaking-grass are a distinctive feature of meadows and grasslands, particularly those on chalky soils. Its heart-shaped flower heads dance on delicate stems, giving the plant many different common names such as Totter Grass, Dithery Dock, Wigwams and Toddling Grass.

How to identify

The pendulous, heart-shaped, green and purple spikelets (containing the flowers) of Quaking-grass are distinctive - they look a little like miniature hops. Held in loose clusters on fine stems that quake in the breeze, they appear from June to September.

Where to find it

Locally common in England and Wales.

Habitats

When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Once awash with wildflowers and alive with insects, the meadows and chalk grasslands that Quaking-grass favours are gradually disappearing either to make way for agricultural intensification or as a result of poor management. Without care, those grasslands that are left can quickly become overgrown, pushing out delicate plants and flowers. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways these fragile habitats are kept in good condition. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from stockwatching to surveying meadow flowers.

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Species information

Common name
Quaking-grass
Latin name
Briza media
Category
Grasses
Statistics
Height: up to 40cm
Conservation status
Common.