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Crested Dog's-tail

Cynosurus cristatus

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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 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, Mountain Melick, 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:
75 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, lawns, meadows, parks, towns.

Green, no petals
One-sided stalked green spikelet, shortly awned.
Seeds, up to 4mm long.
Stiff green, wiry grass blades, long and narrow.
Other Names:
Dog's Grass, Dog's Tail Grass, Meadow Dog's-tail, Windlestraw.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Cynosurus cristatus, also known as crested dog's-tail or meadow dog's-tail, is a species of grass native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a common grass in meadows, pastures, and other grassland habitats, and it is also sometimes grown as a decorative grass in gardens. The plant has narrow, upright leaves and produces tall, slender spikes of small flowers that are green or purplish in color. The flowers are followed by small, hard seeds that are dispersed by wind. Cynosurus cristatus is a hardy grass that is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions and is resistant to drought and grazing. It is often used for forage and erosion control.


Crested Dog's-tail, also known as Cynosurus cristatus, is a species of grass that belongs to the Poaceae family. This species of grass is known for its distinctive crest-like seed head, which resembles a dog's tail, and its bright green leaves. The plant can grow up to 60 cm tall and is commonly found in fields, meadows, and pastures in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

Crested Dog's-tail is a hardy and resilient species of grass that is capable of growing in a wide range of soil types, from sand to clay, and in a range of temperatures, from cold to hot. It is also a highly adaptable species, able to grow in areas with varying moisture levels, making it a popular choice for farmers, landscapers, and gardeners alike.

This species of grass is also of great importance to wildlife. It provides a valuable source of food for many species of birds, especially for upland game birds such as partridge and pheasant. Crested Dog's-tail also provides cover and nesting sites for birds, small mammals, and insects.

In addition to its ecological significance, Crested Dog's-tail is also of great importance to the agricultural industry. The plant is often used for forage and as a cover crop, providing food for livestock and reducing soil erosion. It is also used for the production of hay, which is fed to animals during the winter months when food is scarce.

Despite its many benefits, Crested Dog's-tail can become a problem when it grows in areas where it is not wanted. The plant has a tendency to spread quickly and can become invasive, displacing other species of plants and altering ecosystems. For this reason, it is important to manage Crested Dog's-tail populations and to take measures to prevent its spread into areas where it is not wanted.

Crested Dog's-tail, or Cynosurus cristatus, is a species of grass that is known for its distinctive seed head and its adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions. This species of grass provides a valuable source of food and cover for wildlife and is of great importance to the agricultural industry. However, it is also important to manage its populations to prevent it from becoming invasive and disrupting ecosystems.

Another notable feature of Crested Dog's-tail is its ability to tolerate heavy grazing, making it a great option for pastures. The plant can regrow quickly even after being heavily grazed, providing a sustainable source of food for livestock. This quality has also made it a popular option for restoring degraded or damaged habitats, as it can help to rebuild soil structure and improve the health of the ecosystem.

In terms of human consumption, Crested Dog's-tail has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant is believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and has been used to treat a range of conditions, including headaches, joint pain, and digestive issues. The plant is also a source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

In addition to its practical uses, Crested Dog's-tail also has a place in art and literature. Its distinctive seed head has been featured in paintings, illustrations, and poems, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the natural world.

To care for Crested Dog's-tail in your garden or pasture, it is important to provide the plant with adequate sunlight and moisture. The plant prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soils, although it can tolerate a range of soil types. It is also important to manage its growth by removing any dead or yellowing leaves and to prevent it from spreading into areas where it is not wanted.

Crested Dog's-tail is a versatile and important species of grass that has a range of practical, ecological, and cultural uses. Whether you are a farmer, landscaper, or nature enthusiast, this species is worth considering for your next project.

Crested Dog's-tail is also known for its attractive appearance, making it a popular option for ornamental gardens and landscaping projects. The bright green leaves and distinctive seed head provide a visual interest that adds to the overall beauty of the garden. Additionally, the plant is low maintenance and requires little to no care, making it a great option for those who want a beautiful garden without spending a lot of time and effort maintaining it.

This species of grass is also used in the production of biofuels, as its fast-growing nature and high yields make it an attractive option for energy production. The plant can be used to produce ethanol and bio-oil, which can be used to fuel vehicles and to generate electricity. The use of Crested Dog's-tail for biofuel production also has environmental benefits, as it helps to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In some areas, Crested Dog's-tail is also used in the production of thatch for roofing materials. The plant's strong and durable stems make it a good choice for roofing, and its fast-growing nature means that it can be harvested and replanted in a relatively short amount of time.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Crested Dog's-tail is also a popular option for erosion control and land rehabilitation projects. The plant's dense root system helps to prevent soil erosion and can be used to help stabilize slopes and riverbanks. This makes it an important tool for conserving and restoring ecosystems, as well as reducing the impact of erosion on nearby communities and infrastructure.

In conclusion, Crested Dog's-tail is a versatile and valuable species of grass that has a range of uses and benefits. Whether you are looking to beautify your garden, provide food and cover for wildlife, or conserve and restore the natural environment, this species is worth considering.


Crested Dog's-tail filmed at Lady Mabel's Wood, Wigan, Lancashire on the 9th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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