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Creeping Soft-grass

Holcus mollis

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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, 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, 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:
120 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, hedgerows, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
Straw-coloured flower spikelets, tinged red or purple. The spikelet has an awn which visible protrudes. The similar-looking Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) does not have this feature. Wind pollinated.
A caryopsis.
The leaf blade is a maximum of 15cm in length and 1cm in width. The ligule is between 2 and 5mm. The similar-looking Yorkshire Fog is found in meadows rather than in woodlands, as with Creeping Soft-grass. Yorkshire Fog also has downy stems, unlike Creeping Soft-grass. Both species frequently hybridise. Perennial.
Other Names:
Creeping Velvet Grass, Soft Rush, Velvet Grass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Holcus mollis, commonly known as soft rush or velvet grass, is a species of perennial grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It typically grows to a height of 2-4 ft. (60-120 cm) with a spread of 1-2 ft. (30-60 cm). The plant has long, narrow leaves that are a dark green color and have a velvety texture. The flowers are arranged in spikes, each spike having several small, greenish-brown flowers. The flowers bloom in late summer to fall. Soft rush is tolerant to a wide range of soil and light conditions, but it prefers wet soils, it can grow in full sun to partial shade. It's often used in wetland gardens, for erosion control and as a ground cover. It's also used for thatching, as it has been used in the past to make roofs for traditional houses in rural areas.


Creeping Soft-grass, scientifically known as Holcus mollis, is a species of grass that is commonly found in moist, shaded areas such as forests, meadows, and riverbanks. Native to Europe, it has become naturalized in various regions of the world, including North America and Australia.

The plant has soft, green, hairy leaves that are about 4-6 inches long and 0.4-0.8 inches wide. Its stems can grow up to 3 feet long and are slender, weak, and generally creeping. The inflorescence, or flower cluster, is a panicle that is about 6-8 inches long, consisting of several small flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer.

Creeping Soft-grass is a hardy plant that can grow in various soil types and conditions. It thrives in moist, shaded areas but can also tolerate some degree of sunlight. The plant is an excellent ground cover and is often used in landscaping to prevent soil erosion.

While Creeping Soft-grass is not considered invasive, it can sometimes become a weed and grow rapidly, especially in disturbed areas. It can outcompete other vegetation and become dominant, causing a reduction in biodiversity. As such, it is important to monitor its growth and manage it accordingly.

One of the benefits of Creeping Soft-grass is that it is an excellent food source for livestock, particularly cattle and horses. Its soft leaves are highly palatable and nutritious, providing a good source of fiber and protein.

In addition, Creeping Soft-grass has been used for medicinal purposes. It contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties, making it useful for treating fevers, headaches, and other ailments.

Creeping Soft-grass is a versatile plant that has both practical and aesthetic uses. Its ability to thrive in various conditions and provide a source of food and medicine makes it an important species to both humans and wildlife. However, it is essential to monitor its growth and prevent it from becoming a weed, which can have negative effects on biodiversity.

Creeping Soft-grass is a member of the grass family, Poaceae, which is one of the most economically important plant families in the world. It is closely related to other common grass species such as bluegrass and fescue. Like many other grasses, Creeping Soft-grass is able to spread through rhizomes, which are underground stems that allow the plant to expand and colonize new areas.

In addition to its practical uses, Creeping Soft-grass is also valued for its ornamental qualities. Its soft, fluffy leaves and delicate flowers make it an attractive addition to gardens and landscaping projects. It is often used as a ground cover in shaded areas or as a border plant along walkways and paths.

When it comes to cultivation, Creeping Soft-grass is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, but can tolerate a wide range of soil types. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during periods of drought, to ensure the plant remains healthy and does not dry out.

In terms of propagation, Creeping Soft-grass can be grown from seed or by division. Seeds can be sown in the spring or fall, and the plant can also be propagated by dividing the rhizomes and transplanting them to new areas.

Creeping Soft-grass is a versatile and useful plant that has both practical and aesthetic applications. Its ability to provide food, medicine, and a source of ground cover make it a valuable species in various settings. However, it is important to monitor its growth and prevent it from becoming invasive in certain environments. With proper management and care, Creeping Soft-grass can be a valuable addition to any garden or landscaping project.

One interesting aspect of Creeping Soft-grass is its ecological role in supporting a diverse range of wildlife. The plant provides food and habitat for various insects, birds, and mammals. For example, the seeds of Creeping Soft-grass are an important food source for small mammals such as voles and mice. In turn, these animals serve as prey for predators such as owls and hawks.

The plant's flowers are also an important source of nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. In particular, the plant is known to attract a wide variety of butterfly species, including the Common Blue and the Meadow Brown.

Creeping Soft-grass is also an important component of various plant communities, especially in riparian areas where it plays a vital role in stabilizing soil and preventing erosion. Its dense root system helps to anchor soil in place and prevent sediment from being washed away during heavy rainfall or flooding events.

In addition to its ecological benefits, Creeping Soft-grass is also used in various traditional and cultural practices. For example, in some parts of Europe, the plant has been used to make brooms and brushes due to its soft, fluffy leaves. It has also been used as a bedding material for livestock due to its high absorbency and soft texture.

In conclusion, Creeping Soft-grass is a valuable plant species that has practical, ecological, and cultural significance. While it is not considered an invasive species, it is important to monitor its growth and prevent it from spreading too aggressively in certain environments. By understanding the various uses and benefits of this plant, we can work to ensure that it continues to play an important role in various ecosystems and human societies.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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