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Narrow-leaved Small-reed

Calamagrostis stricta

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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, 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
Bogs, gardens, marshes, meadows, riversides, swamps, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Purple, no petals
Flowers appear inside narrowly clustered panicles. Each flower has 2 stigmas. Stamens are approximately 2 to 2.5mm long.
The fruit is a caryopsis which is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit.
The leaves are linear and hairless, up to 5mm wide. They have short, blunt ligules.
Other Names:
Calamagrostis, Narrowleaf Reedgrass, Slender Reedgrass, Slim-stem Reed-grass, Upright Reedgrass.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Calamagrostis stricta, also known as slender reedgrass or upright reedgrass, is a perennial grass species in the Poaceae family. It is native to the Northern hemisphere, including Europe, Asia, and North America. It is commonly found in wet to dry habitats such as meadows, open woods, and along streams. The plant has a tall, upright habit, reaching up to 120 cm in height. The leaves are narrow, linear and have a smooth surface, and the panicles (flower cluster) are large and feathery, blooming in the late summer. The plant has a distinctive light-green color and fine texture, hence its common name. It is often used as an ornamental plant, particularly in wildflower gardens and meadows, and also for stabilizing the soil in wetland restoration projects.


Narrow-leaved Small-reed (Calamagrostis stricta) is a perennial grass species that belongs to the Poaceae family. It is also known by several other names, such as Slimstem Reedgrass, Calamagrostis, Narrowleaf Reedgrass, and Narrowleaf Small-reed. This grass species is widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere and is found in various habitats, including meadows, prairies, and wetlands.


Narrow-leaved Small-reed grows up to 1.2 meters in height and has a slender stem with narrow leaves that are usually less than 0.5 cm in width. The inflorescence is a dense panicle that is usually around 10-30 cm long and is composed of numerous spikelets. The flowers are usually green or purple and have feathery bristles that help in wind dispersal of the seeds.


Narrow-leaved Small-reed is a versatile species and can grow in a variety of soil types and moisture regimes. It is usually found in moist habitats such as marshes, fens, and wet meadows but can also tolerate drier conditions. It is an important forage species for several herbivorous mammals, including deer, elk, and moose. The seeds of Narrow-leaved Small-reed are also consumed by several bird species such as sparrows and finches.


Narrow-leaved Small-reed has several ecological and economic uses. The grass species is used for erosion control in wetland restoration projects, and its fibrous root system helps stabilize soil and prevent erosion. It is also an important forage species for livestock, and its high nutritional value makes it a valuable feed for grazing animals. In addition, the plant is used for thatching roofs and making baskets, mats, and other handicrafts.


Narrow-leaved Small-reed is an important species for wetland ecosystems, but many populations of the plant have been impacted by habitat loss, land use change, and human disturbance. In some regions, the plant is considered a threatened or endangered species. Conservation efforts for the species include the protection and restoration of wetland habitats, monitoring of populations, and the use of sustainable harvesting practices.

Narrow-leaved Small-reed is a versatile and valuable grass species with ecological, economic, and cultural significance. Its slender stem and feathery inflorescence make it a distinctive and attractive plant, and its importance for wetland ecosystems and forage make it a valuable species to conserve and manage.

More Information

Narrow-leaved Small-reed is a species that can help to maintain the health of wetland ecosystems. Its fibrous root system helps to hold soil in place and prevent erosion, which is especially important in areas where water flows are high. This root system can also help to trap and filter pollutants from the water, which is important for maintaining water quality in wetlands.

The species is also important for wildlife. Its dense growth provides cover and shelter for many animals, including small mammals, birds, and insects. The seeds and leaves of the plant are an important source of food for many herbivorous animals, and the insects that live on the plant are an important food source for many insectivorous animals.

Narrow-leaved Small-reed is also an important species for agriculture. Its high nutritional value and palatability make it an important forage species for grazing animals. It can be used for hay production or grazed directly by livestock. Additionally, the plant has been used for thatching roofs and making baskets, mats, and other handicrafts.

However, like many wetland species, Narrow-leaved Small-reed is threatened by habitat loss and degradation. Wetland drainage, land use change, and development have all contributed to the decline of the species in some regions. Conservation efforts, such as wetland restoration, habitat protection, and sustainable harvesting practices, can help to protect the species and maintain its important ecological and economic benefits.

Narrow-leaved Small-reed is an important grass species with ecological, economic, and cultural significance. Its role in maintaining the health of wetland ecosystems, providing food and shelter for wildlife, and providing forage for livestock, make it a valuable species to conserve and manage. As we continue to face the challenge of habitat loss and degradation, protecting species like Narrow-leaved Small-reed will be critical for maintaining the health and resilience of our ecosystems.

Narrow-leaved Small-reed has a fascinating life cycle. It is a perennial grass species, meaning that it lives for multiple years. The plant starts growing in early spring, and by mid-summer, it has developed an inflorescence that produces seeds. The seeds are wind-dispersed and can travel long distances, which allows the species to colonize new areas. The plant then dies back in the fall, but its root system remains alive and sends up new shoots the following spring.

The species is also adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions. It can tolerate both wet and dry soil conditions, and it is able to grow in a variety of soil types. It is also able to survive in areas with a wide range of temperatures and precipitation levels, making it a resilient species.

Narrow-leaved Small-reed is an important species to consider when designing and implementing wetland restoration projects. Its fibrous root system helps to stabilize soils and prevent erosion, which can be especially important in areas that have been impacted by human activity. Its ability to grow in a variety of soil types and moisture regimes also makes it a useful species for wetland restoration projects in a range of environmental conditions.

Overall, Narrow-leaved Small-reed is a valuable species with many ecological, economic, and cultural benefits. Its adaptability, resilience, and important ecological functions make it an important species to conserve and manage. By protecting this species and its wetland habitat, we can help to maintain the health and integrity of wetland ecosystems, support wildlife populations, and provide valuable resources for human use.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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