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Bog Hair-grass

Deschampsia setacea

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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, 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, 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:
60 centimetres tall
Bogs, fields, gardens, heathland, waterside.

Purple, no petals
Creamy white flowers that are produced inside panicles. Spikelets are each 4 to 5mm long. Each spikelet contains two florets.
The fruit is type of dry, one-seeded fruit called a caryopsis.
Entire, linear leaves, no wider than 1mm wide and with often inrolled. Long, narrow and pointed ligules.
Other Names:
Tawny Hairgrass, Tufted Hairgrass.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Deschampsia setacea, also known as Tufted Hairgrass or Tawny Hairgrass, is a species of grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, Asia and North America. It is a perennial grass that forms dense tufts, with a height that ranges from 30-60 cm. The leaves are narrow and fine, green or bluish-green in color and have a distinctive auricles (small ear-like appendages) at the base. The flowers are formed in loose, open panicles, which are greenish or purplish in color and appear in summer. The inflorescences are often drooping, and the spikelets are surrounded by long, stiff, golden-brown or reddish-brown bristles, which gives the plant its common name. This grass species is commonly used in ornamental gardening and landscaping, and also as a forage grass for livestock. It is known to be tolerant of heavy grazing and of poor soil. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and partial shade to full sun.


Bog Hair-grass, also known as Deschampsia setacea, is a grass species that is commonly found in wetland habitats such as bogs, fens, and marshes. It is a native species to North America, Europe, and Asia and is known for its unique appearance and ecological importance.

Description and Appearance

Bog Hair-grass is a cool-season grass that grows up to 1-2 feet tall. Its stems are slender and wiry, and its leaves are narrow, tapering, and rough to the touch. The leaves can grow up to 10 inches long, and they are usually light green or blue-green in color. The plant produces feathery flowers that are greenish-brown and hang from the top of the stems. The flowers are wind-pollinated, and they bloom from May to August.

Ecological Importance

Bog Hair-grass is an important plant species in wetland ecosystems. It provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife, including insects, birds, and mammals. The plant's dense growth pattern provides nesting sites for birds, and its seeds and foliage are a food source for insects and small mammals. Bog Hair-grass is also an important component of wetland food chains, serving as a primary producer that supports higher trophic levels.

Conservation Status

Bog Hair-grass is considered a threatened species in many parts of its range due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activities such as agriculture, urbanization, and resource extraction. Wetland habitats are particularly vulnerable to these threats, and as a result, many populations of Bog Hair-grass have declined in recent years. Efforts are underway to protect and restore wetland habitats, including the preservation of Bog Hair-grass populations and the restoration of degraded wetland ecosystems.


Bog Hair-grass has been used for a variety of purposes by indigenous peoples throughout its range. In North America, Native American tribes have used the plant for basket weaving, cordage, and other traditional crafts. In Europe, the plant has been used for thatching roofs and making brooms. Bog Hair-grass has also been used in the horticultural industry as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes.

More Information

Bog Hair-grass is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including poor soil quality, low nutrient availability, and periodic flooding. Its ability to thrive in these challenging conditions makes it a valuable species for stabilizing wetland ecosystems and preventing soil erosion.

In addition to its ecological importance, Bog Hair-grass has also been studied for its potential medicinal properties. The plant contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including alkaloids and flavonoids, that have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of Bog Hair-grass, these findings suggest that the plant may have promising applications in traditional medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Bog Hair-grass is not only important for its ecological and medicinal value, but also for its potential as a bioindicator of wetland health. As a wetland specialist, it is particularly sensitive to changes in water levels, nutrient availability, and soil pH, making it an ideal species for monitoring wetland conditions. By studying changes in Bog Hair-grass populations, scientists can gain insights into the health of wetland ecosystems and identify areas that may require conservation or restoration efforts.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal value, Bog Hair-grass has also been studied for its potential as a biofuel feedstock. The plant contains high levels of cellulose and lignin, which are key components of plant biomass and can be converted into biofuels through a process known as thermochemical conversion. While more research is needed to fully understand the feasibility of using Bog Hair-grass as a biofuel feedstock, these findings suggest that the plant may have promising applications in the renewable energy sector.

Bog Hair-grass is a versatile and important plant species that has potential uses in a variety of fields, from ecology to medicine to industry. Its unique adaptations to wetland habitats and sensitivity to changes in environmental conditions make it a valuable indicator species and a key player in wetland ecosystems. As we continue to explore the potential applications of this valuable plant species, it is important to prioritize its conservation and protection to ensure its survival and continued contributions to our understanding of wetland ecosystems and their role in a sustainable future.

Bog Hair-grass also plays an important role in the global carbon cycle. Wetland ecosystems, including those dominated by Bog Hair-grass, are among the most effective carbon sinks on the planet. The anaerobic conditions found in wetlands slow the decomposition of organic matter, allowing carbon to accumulate in the soil. As a result, wetlands can store more carbon per unit area than most other terrestrial ecosystems.

Bog Hair-grass has also been used in ecological restoration efforts to enhance the health and biodiversity of degraded wetland ecosystems. The plant's ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions makes it an ideal species for restoring disturbed wetland habitats. By planting Bog Hair-grass and other wetland plant species, restoration practitioners can help stabilize soil, prevent erosion, and provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.

In addition to its ecological and practical applications, Bog Hair-grass is also a beautiful and fascinating plant species. Its feathery flowers and slender stems make it a popular ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. By incorporating Bog Hair-grass into our gardens and public spaces, we can help raise awareness of the importance of wetland ecosystems and promote the conservation of this valuable plant species.

In conclusion, Bog Hair-grass is a multifaceted and important plant species that plays a vital role in wetland ecosystems and has potential applications in medicine, industry, and ecological restoration. As we continue to explore the potential uses and benefits of this valuable species, it is important to prioritize its conservation and protection to ensure its survival and continued contributions to our understanding of wetland ecosystems and their role in a sustainable future.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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