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Quaking Grass

Briza media

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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 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, 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:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, meadows, moorland, mountains, riverbanks, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

Green, no petals
The flowers of Quaking Grass, often appearing in the late spring to early summer, are typically small and delicate in their beauty. These pale green or purplish-hued blossoms possess an understated charm, harmoniously blending with the slender stems and nodding seed heads of the plant. The subtle, almost ethereal, colours of the flowers are accentuated by their fine and intricate structure. The individual spikelets and florets create a graceful composition, adding to the overall allure of this plant. Quaking Grass flowers exude an air of simplicity and natural elegance that perfectly complements their gentle, swaying movement in the breeze.
The fruit of Quaking Grass is quite distinctive in its appearance and character. After the flowering stage, the plant forms seed heads that are a prominent feature, known for their slender stems and enchanting elegance. These nodding seed heads hold a treasure of tiny, minute seeds, often arranged in a gracefully organized pattern. Each seed, resembling a minute grain, glistens with subtle natural beauty. When the wind sweeps through the grasslands, these seeds delicately tremble and sway, giving rise to the grass's evocative common name. The fruit of Quaking Grass is an embodiment of fragility and grace, contributing to the enchanting spectacle of this species.
The leaves of Quaking Grass are slender and delicate, characterized by their fine texture and vibrant green hues. These linear, grass-like leaves grow in tufted clumps, providing a verdant backdrop to the plant's overall aesthetic. They are usually long and narrow, with a graceful arching quality. The leaves, despite their unassuming appearance, play a crucial role in the plant's photosynthetic process and contribute to its overall elegant demeanor. Their slender form adds to the grass's overall charm, as they gently sway in harmony with the nodding seed heads, creating a mesmerizing dance in the breeze.
Quaking Grass is not typically associated with a distinct aroma. It is primarily appreciated for its visual and tactile qualities, such as its delicate appearance and graceful movement in the breeze. The plant's slender stems, nodding seed heads, and fine leaves may sway and rustle gently in the wind, but they do not release any notable fragrance. The allure of Quaking Grass lies in its visual and tactile appeal, rather than its olfactory qualities, making it a plant appreciated for its understated beauty and not for any particular scent.
Other Names:
Common Quaking-grass, Cow-quake, Didder, Dithering-grass, Dithery Dock, Dodder-grass, Doddering Dillies, Doddle-grass, Dothery Dock, Earthquakes, Jiggle-joggles, Jockey Grass, Joey Jingles, Lady's Hair, Maidenhair-grass, Pearl Grass, Quakers, Quakers-and-Shakers, Shaking-grass, Shivery Shakes, Shivery Shaky Grass, Small Quaking Grass, Toddling Grass, Totter Grass, Trembling Grass, Wag-wantons, Wagwants, Wibbly-wobbly, Wigwams.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Briza media, also known as small quaking grass or common quaking grass, is a species of grass native to Europe and Asia. It is a perennial grass that can grow up to 0.6 meter tall. It has narrow, pointed leaf blades and a seedhead that is about 10-20 cm long, composed of several long, narrow spikes that are pendulous and have a nodding habit that makes them shake in the slightest breeze, hence the name quaking grass.

It prefers well-drained soils and is commonly found in meadows, roadsides, and other disturbed areas. It can be used as an ornamental grass in gardens and landscape, it's attractive seedheads and nodding habit can be used to add an informal and graceful touch to the garden. It is generally considered to be low maintenance, hardy and easy to grow, it can be propagated from seed or division and it is tolerant of most soil types. It's also an important food source for grazing animals and provides a valuable nectar source for pollinators. Additionally, it can be used as a cover crop and is considered to have potential as a biofuel crop.


Quaking Grass, also known as Briza media, is a fascinating ornamental grass species that belongs to the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia and has since been introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental plant. Quaking Grass is characterized by its unique seed heads that appear to be shaking in the slightest breeze, hence its common name.


Quaking Grass is a cool-season grass species that grows up to 60 cm tall. It has light green, narrow leaves that grow from the base of the plant and form a neat clump. The plant's flowering period is in the summer, and it produces delicate, greenish-white flowers that are held on slender stems. The flowers eventually give way to the most distinctive feature of Quaking Grass - its seed heads. The seed heads are flat, oval-shaped, and have a greenish tint. They are held on long, slender stems that can be up to 30 cm long. The seed heads are quite fragile and will move and rustle in the wind, giving the impression of "quaking."


Quaking Grass is a hardy plant that thrives in well-drained soil and full sun. It prefers a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sand, loam, and clay. It is a low-maintenance plant that requires little watering and fertilization. However, it is best to water the plant during extended dry spells to prevent it from drying out. Quaking Grass is an excellent plant for rock gardens, borders, and as an edging plant. It can also be grown in containers and makes a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements.


Quaking Grass can be propagated by sowing its seeds in the spring or fall. It is best to sow the seeds directly into the soil where they will grow as the plant does not transplant well. The seeds should be planted just below the soil surface and spaced at least 30 cm apart to allow for sufficient growth. Germination can take up to three weeks, and the seedlings should be thinned out to one plant every 30 cm. Once established, Quaking Grass will self-seed, and the plant can become invasive if not managed correctly.


Quaking Grass is a beautiful ornamental plant that adds texture and movement to a garden. Its seed heads are an excellent addition to flower arrangements and can be dried for use in crafts. The plant is also attractive to bees and other pollinators, making it a useful plant for promoting biodiversity in the garden.

In conclusion, Quaking Grass is a unique and attractive plant that is easy to grow and maintain. Its delicate, quaking seed heads add an enchanting touch to any garden, and its low-maintenance nature makes it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.

Further Information on Quaking Grass

Quaking Grass is also known for its medicinal properties. The plant has been traditionally used in herbal medicine to treat various ailments, including digestive disorders, headaches, and nervous system disorders. It is believed that the plant's active compounds, including flavonoids and saponins, are responsible for its therapeutic properties. However, it is essential to note that scientific research on the plant's medicinal benefits is limited, and more studies are needed to validate its traditional use.

Apart from its ornamental and medicinal properties, Quaking Grass is also known for its ecological importance. The plant provides food and shelter for various insects and wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and birds. The plant's seeds are a source of food for small mammals and ground-feeding birds, while its leaves and stems provide cover for small insects and arthropods.

Quaking Grass has also been used in folklore and mythology. In some cultures, the plant is believed to have magical powers and is used in rituals and spells. For example, in European folklore, Quaking Grass is associated with love and is often used in love potions. The plant is also believed to possess protective qualities and can be used to ward off evil spirits.

Quaking Grass has also inspired many artists and writers. The plant's delicate, quaking seed heads have been depicted in paintings, drawings, and photographs. The poet William Wordsworth wrote about Quaking Grass in his poem, "The Green Linnet," where he described the plant's "airy motion" and its ability to "gladden the desert."

Finally, Quaking Grass is an example of the importance of preserving biodiversity. As a native plant, Quaking Grass is an important part of the ecosystem and provides various ecological services. However, the plant is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and climate change. By growing Quaking Grass in our gardens and protecting its natural habitat, we can contribute to the preservation of this remarkable plant species and the ecosystem it supports.

Quaking Grass is also a popular plant in the floral industry. Its unique seed heads are often used in dried flower arrangements and are highly sought after by florists. The plant's long stems make it ideal for creating vertical arrangements, and its delicate appearance adds a soft, romantic touch to any floral design.

Quaking Grass can also be used in landscaping to create naturalistic meadows or prairies. When planted en masse, the plant creates a sea of delicate green foliage and shaking seed heads that sway in the breeze, creating a dynamic, ever-changing landscape. This type of planting is not only aesthetically pleasing but also provides habitat for various pollinators and wildlife.

Finally, Quaking Grass is an excellent plant for those interested in xeriscaping. The plant is drought-tolerant and can withstand extended periods of drought once established, making it an ideal choice for water-wise gardening. Its low-maintenance nature and ability to thrive in a wide range of soil types make it a versatile plant for landscaping projects.

In conclusion, Quaking Grass is a versatile and useful plant with many applications in gardening, landscaping, and floral design. Its delicate, quaking seed heads, drought tolerance, and low-maintenance nature make it an excellent choice for those interested in creating sustainable gardens and landscapes.

30 Facts About Quaking Grass

Here are 30 interesting facts about Quaking Grass:

  1. Quaking Grass is scientifically known as Briza.
  2. It is a type of grass that is known for its distinctive seed heads.
  3. Quaking Grass is native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia.
  4. It is also found in North America and is considered an invasive species in some areas.
  5. The grass gets its name from the way its seed heads tremble and "quake" in the wind.
  6. Quaking Grass belongs to the Poaceae family, which is the same family as other common grasses.
  7. There are over 40 different species of Quaking Grass.
  8. Quaking Grass is an annual or perennial plant, depending on the species.
  9. It is often grown for ornamental purposes in gardens and landscapes.
  10. The grass has slender stems with delicate, nodding seed heads.
  11. Each seed head consists of multiple tiny spikelets.
  12. The seeds are held on long, thin stems that sway in the breeze.
  13. Quaking Grass is known for its graceful and mesmerizing movement in the wind.
  14. The grass can grow in a variety of soil types and is relatively adaptable.
  15. It is drought-tolerant and can thrive in dry conditions.
  16. Some species of Quaking Grass are used for erosion control due to their extensive root systems.
  17. Quaking Grass typically blooms in late spring to early summer.
  18. Its flowers are often pale green or purplish in color.
  19. Quaking Grass is a valuable food source for many bird species.
  20. It is also known to provide shelter for insects and small mammals.
  21. The grass has a rich cultural history and has been used in various folklore and traditions.
  22. In some cultures, Quaking Grass is associated with good luck and protection.
  23. Quaking Grass has also been used in herbal medicine for its calming properties.
  24. The seeds are sometimes collected and used in dried flower arrangements.
  25. Quaking Grass can reseed itself easily and spread in the right conditions.
  26. It is considered a weed in agricultural fields due to its ability to compete with crops.
  27. In some regions, Quaking Grass is considered a wildflower and a symbol of meadows.
  28. It has a tendency to naturalize and can be found in grasslands and open spaces.
  29. The grass is a favorite subject for nature photographers and artists due to its unique appearance.
  30. Quaking Grass serves as a reminder of the beauty and intricacy of the natural world, despite its unassuming appearance.

These facts offer a glimpse into the fascinating world of Quaking Grass and its significance in various aspects of life and nature.


Quaking Grass filmed at the following locations:
  • Scout Scar, Cumbria: 26th May 2023
  • Gait Barrows Nature Reserve, Lancashire: 27th May 2023
  • Hutton Roof, Cumbria: 28th May 2023

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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