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Lesser Quaking Grass

Briza minor

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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, 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:
40 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, walls, wasteland.

Green, no petals
A branched panicle containing between 3 and 100 small cone-shaped spikelets. The spikelets are smaller than those of Quaking Grass (Briza media).
The fruits of grasses are known as caryopses. They are a type of dry, one-seeded fruit. The fruit of this species is pale green or brown.
A clump-forming annual grass with linear, upright leaves.
Other Names:
Little Quaking Grass, Little Quakinggrass, Shivery Grass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Briza minor, commonly known as little quaking grass, is a species of grass in the genus Briza. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world. It is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant that can be found in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and rocky or gravelly areas. It is a perennial grass that forms dense clumps, and can grow to a height of up to 40 cm. The leaves are narrow and have a distinctive quivering or "quaking" habit when the wind blows, hence its common name. The plant produces spikes of small, green or brownish flowers in the spring and summer, which are followed by small, brown seed heads.

It is often used for ornamental grass garden , and it is also suitable for meadow or prairie landscaping, erosion control, and wildlife habitat restoration. It could thrive in sandy, acid soils and is tolerant to drought and poor soil conditions.


Lesser Quaking Grass, also known as Briza minor, is a delicate and graceful plant that is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is a member of the Poaceae family, which includes grasses and cereals, and is commonly found in meadows, fields, and along roadsides. This plant is known for its unique seed heads that appear to quiver in the slightest breeze, giving it its common name of quaking grass.

Appearance and Characteristics

Lesser Quaking Grass is a small annual or perennial plant that typically grows to a height of 20-40 cm. It has slender, erect stems that are branched and bear small, pale green leaves. The flowers are produced in a loose, open panicle that is typically 5-10 cm long. The individual flowers are small, with greenish-yellow or brownish-green spikelets that hang down on slender stalks. The most striking feature of Lesser Quaking Grass is its seed heads, which are heart-shaped and papery, with a distinctive quivering motion that gives the plant its common name.

Habitat and Distribution

Lesser Quaking Grass is native to Europe and parts of Asia, including the Caucasus and Siberia. It has been introduced to North America and can be found in some areas of the United States and Canada. The plant prefers well-drained soils and is often found in meadows, fields, and along roadsides. It is a common weed in some areas and can be invasive in certain habitats.

Uses and Benefits

Lesser Quaking Grass is not typically grown as a commercial crop, but it has some interesting uses and benefits. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and is sometimes used as a natural remedy for stress and anxiety.

In gardening, Lesser Quaking Grass is often used as an ornamental plant for its unique seed heads and delicate appearance. It can be grown as an annual or perennial and is suitable for containers, rock gardens, and borders. The plant is easy to grow and requires little maintenance, making it a popular choice for novice gardeners.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Lesser Quaking Grass is also an important plant for wildlife. The seeds are a source of food for birds and small mammals, and the plant provides shelter and habitat for a variety of insects and other wildlife.

Lesser Quaking Grass is a fascinating and beautiful plant that is known for its unique seed heads and delicate appearance. It has a variety of uses and benefits, including ornamental, medicinal, and ecological uses. Whether grown in a garden or found in the wild, this plant is sure to capture the attention and admiration of anyone who encounters it.

More Information

Lesser Quaking Grass is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. It prefers well-drained soils and full sun but can tolerate some shade. The plant can be propagated by seed or by division, and it will self-seed in some conditions.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, Lesser Quaking Grass has also been used for culinary purposes. The seeds can be ground into flour and used in baking, and the young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. However, it is important to note that the plant is not commonly consumed and should be used with caution.

Lesser Quaking Grass is also sometimes used in traditional folklore and mythology. In some cultures, the quivering seed heads are thought to represent the beating hearts of young lovers, while in others, the plant is believed to have protective or healing powers.

Lesser Quaking Grass is a versatile and fascinating plant that offers a range of benefits and uses. Whether appreciated for its ornamental beauty, medicinal properties, or ecological value, this plant is a wonderful addition to any garden or natural environment.

Lesser Quaking Grass has been the subject of scientific study due to its unique physical properties. The quivering motion of its seed heads has been the subject of research into the dynamics of motion and fluid mechanics. Researchers have found that the motion of the seed heads is the result of complex fluid dynamics, which allows the plant to move with the slightest breeze. This has inspired researchers to study the plant as a potential model for micro-robotics and other applications.

Lesser Quaking Grass has also been used in traditional medicine for its sedative and calming properties. The plant contains a number of active compounds, including alkaloids and flavonoids, which are believed to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system. The plant has been used to treat a range of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, and nervous tension.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Lesser Quaking Grass is also an important component of traditional cuisine in some regions. The seeds can be ground into a flour and used in baking, while the young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The plant is also sometimes used as a garnish or decorative element in salads and other dishes.

Overall, Lesser Quaking Grass is a fascinating plant that offers a range of benefits and uses. Whether appreciated for its ornamental beauty, medicinal properties, or culinary value, this plant is a wonderful addition to any garden or natural environment. Its unique physical properties have also made it the subject of scientific study, and it may have potential applications in fields such as robotics and fluid mechanics.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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