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Scottish Small-reed

Calamagrostis scotica

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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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, 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, 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:
90 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, meadows, wetland.

Purple, no petals
A cluster of flowers containing one-flowered spikelets. The glumes are less sharply pointed than those of the similar and much more common Wood Small-reed (Calamagrostis epigeios).
The fruit of grasses are known as caryopses. A caryopsis is a kind of dry, one-seeded fruit.
A very rare plant found on just a few sites in the British Isles. This species has narrow, linear leaves. The stems are normally rough just below the flowers.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Calamagrostis scotica is a species of grass that is native to Scotland. The leaves are flat and green, and the flowers are arranged in a dense, feathery panicle. It is commonly found in wet meadows, bogs, and other damp habitats.


The Scottish Small-reed, or Calamagrostis scotica, is a unique and rare plant species that is native to the bogs and moorlands of Scotland. Despite being a small and unassuming plant, it plays an important role in the local ecology and has been the subject of much scientific study and conservation efforts.

Appearance and Habitat

The Scottish Small-reed is a small, tufted grass that typically grows to be about 20-50cm in height. Its stems are thin and wiry, and its leaves are narrow and pointed. The plant is adapted to wet and acidic soils, and is often found in bogs, moors, and other wetland habitats throughout Scotland.

Conservation Status

The Scottish Small-reed is considered to be a rare and endangered species, and has been listed as a priority conservation plant in Scotland. The plant is threatened by a variety of factors, including habitat loss and degradation, as well as competition from invasive plant species. As a result, efforts are being made to conserve the species and protect its remaining populations.

Ecological Importance

Despite its small size, the Scottish Small-reed plays an important role in the ecology of its native habitat. The plant provides habitat and food for a variety of insects and other invertebrates, including butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers. These invertebrates, in turn, provide food for birds and other predators.

The Scottish Small-reed is also an important component of the local peatland ecosystem. Peatlands are wetland habitats that are dominated by the growth of peat mosses and other bog plants. These ecosystems are important for carbon storage, as well as for providing habitat for a variety of unique plant and animal species. The Scottish Small-reed is one of many plant species that contribute to the diversity and complexity of peatland ecosystems.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts for the Scottish Small-reed are ongoing, and include a variety of measures aimed at protecting the species and its habitat. These measures include the establishment of protected areas, such as nature reserves and national parks, as well as the implementation of habitat restoration and management programs.

In addition, researchers are working to better understand the biology and ecology of the Scottish Small-reed, in order to inform conservation efforts and improve the species' chances of survival. This includes research on the plant's genetics, physiology, and interactions with other species in its ecosystem.

The Scottish Small-reed is a small but important plant species that plays a vital role in the ecology of Scotland's wetland habitats. Despite being threatened by a variety of factors, efforts are underway to conserve the species and protect its remaining populations. By working to better understand the biology and ecology of this unique plant, scientists and conservationists can help ensure that the Scottish Small-reed remains a part of Scotland's natural heritage for generations to come.

More Information

One of the main threats to the Scottish Small-reed is habitat loss and degradation. This is due to factors such as drainage of wetlands for agricultural and industrial use, and the construction of roads and buildings. Invasive plant species, such as purple moor grass, can also compete with the Scottish Small-reed for resources, further reducing its population.

To combat these threats, efforts are being made to protect and restore the wetland habitats where the Scottish Small-reed grows. This can involve actions such as re-wetting drained peatlands, removing invasive species, and reducing human disturbance. In addition, the establishment of protected areas and conservation programs can help to ensure that the Scottish Small-reed remains a part of Scotland's natural heritage.

Another important aspect of conservation efforts for the Scottish Small-reed is monitoring and research. By tracking the population size and distribution of the plant, as well as studying its biology and interactions with other species, scientists and conservationists can gain a better understanding of the factors affecting the species and develop more effective conservation strategies.

The conservation of the Scottish Small-reed is an important part of preserving Scotland's unique natural heritage. As a species that is both rare and ecologically important, the Scottish Small-reed serves as a reminder of the diverse and complex ecosystems that can be found in even the most unassuming of places. By working to protect this species and its habitat, we can help to ensure that future generations can continue to appreciate the beauty and complexity of Scotland's natural world.

The Scottish Small-reed is not only important for its role in local ecosystems, but it also has cultural significance in Scotland. The plant has been used in traditional medicine and is believed to have therapeutic properties. In addition, the plant is used as a traditional thatching material for the roofs of buildings in some parts of Scotland.

The Scottish Small-reed is also the subject of ongoing scientific research, as scientists seek to better understand its biology and ecology. For example, research has shown that the plant is adapted to grow in acidic soils by secreting organic acids that help to solubilize nutrients. Other research has focused on the genetic diversity of the plant, in order to better understand its population dynamics and inform conservation efforts.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, the Scottish Small-reed is also an important indicator species for wetland conservation. As a plant that is highly adapted to wetland habitats, the presence or absence of the Scottish Small-reed can provide valuable information about the health and biodiversity of these ecosystems.

Overall, the Scottish Small-reed is a unique and valuable plant species that is worthy of conservation efforts. By working to protect and restore its habitat, as well as studying its biology and ecology, we can help to ensure that this small but important plant remains a part of Scotland's natural heritage for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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