Open the Advanced Search

Mountain Melick

Melica nutans

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
70 centimetres tall
Gardens, mountains, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
A stalked, one-sided spikelet. Distinctive cream-coloured flowers with purplish-brown glumes. The flowerheads are similar but larger than those of Wood Melick (Melica uniflora).
The seeds (fruit) of the Mountain Melick cause their stems to bend over.
Rough textured leaves reaching 15cm in length. A deciduous, clump-forming, perennial grass which is most abundant in Scotland (in the UK).
Other Names:
Mountain Melic, Nodding Melic Grass, Nodding Melick.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Melica nutans, also known as nodding melic grass, is a species of perennial grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa and is typically found growing in woodlands and on rocky slopes. The plants grow to around 70 cm tall and produce long, narrow leaves and nodding panicles of small, greenish-purple flowers. Melica nutans is commonly used as ornamental grass in gardens and landscaping, and it is also used for forage and erosion control. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and partial shade.


Mountain Melick, also known as Melica nutans, is a species of grass native to Europe and Asia. This cool-season grass is widely recognized for its elegant, drooping panicles of purple flowers that sway in the wind, adding a touch of beauty to high-altitude meadows and mountainous landscapes.

The Mountain Melick plant is typically around 30-70 cm tall, with slender, light green stems that are topped with elongated, slender leaves. The flowers are arranged in panicles, which are drooping clusters of spikelets that can be up to 15 cm long and feature a purple hue. The panicles are delicate and airy, and they sway gracefully in the wind, making them a stunning sight in mountain meadows and other high-altitude habitats.

Mountain Melick is typically found in moist, open habitats such as mountain meadows, rocky slopes, and alpine regions. It is a hardy species that can withstand harsh weather conditions, making it well-suited for high-altitude environments where temperatures can be extreme. This grass is also known for its ability to thrive in nutrient-poor soils, making it an important component of mountain ecosystems where other plant species struggle to grow.

Aside from its aesthetic qualities, Mountain Melick is also an important food source for many animals that inhabit mountainous regions. Grazing animals such as sheep and goats are known to feed on the leaves and stems of this grass, while small mammals such as voles and shrews consume the seeds.

Mountain Melick has also been used by humans for a variety of purposes throughout history. For example, it was traditionally used as a thatching material for roofs, as well as a source of fiber for making rope and baskets. In addition, the seeds of Mountain Melick have been used as a food source by some cultures.

Despite its beauty and ecological importance, Mountain Melick is not widely cultivated in gardens or landscaped areas. However, it can be a valuable addition to meadow or prairie plantings, particularly in areas with a similar climate to its native range.

Mountain Melick is also known to have medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. The plant contains a compound called melicitrin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. It has been used to treat conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, and headaches.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Mountain Melick is also valued for its ecological role. It is an important component of high-altitude meadows and mountainous ecosystems, providing food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. It also helps to prevent soil erosion and contributes to nutrient cycling.

However, like many plant species, Mountain Melick is threatened by habitat loss and degradation due to human activities such as agriculture, logging, and urbanization. Climate change is also a major threat, as it can alter the timing of plant growth and flowering, affecting the pollination of Mountain Melick and other plant species.

To protect Mountain Melick and other high-altitude plant species, it is important to conserve and restore their natural habitats. This can include measures such as reducing grazing pressure, controlling invasive species, and limiting development in mountainous regions. In addition, public education and awareness campaigns can help to raise awareness of the importance of these plants and the need to protect them for future generations.

Mountain Melick is a unique and valuable plant species that adds beauty and ecological value to mountainous habitats. Its medicinal properties, ecological role, and cultural significance make it a species worth protecting and preserving. By taking action to conserve its habitat and raise awareness of its importance, we can help to ensure the survival of Mountain Melick and other high-altitude plant species.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal value, Mountain Melick also has cultural significance in some regions where it is found. For example, in some parts of Europe, the plant is associated with folklore and legends. It is said that Mountain Melick was used by witches and sorcerers in their spells and potions. In other cultures, the plant is associated with healing and spiritual rituals.

Furthermore, Mountain Melick has potential for use in landscaping and gardening, particularly in mountainous regions where other plant species may not thrive. Its delicate and elegant appearance makes it a desirable addition to naturalistic and wildflower gardens, and it can be used to create a meadow-like effect.

Overall, Mountain Melick is a versatile and valuable plant species that deserves more recognition and attention. Its ecological, medicinal, and cultural significance make it an important part of mountain ecosystems and human history. By understanding and appreciating the value of this plant, we can work to protect it and ensure its survival for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map