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Crested Hair-grass

Koeleria macrantha

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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, 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
Beaches, cliffs, fields, grassland, meadows, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland.

Green, no petals
Cylindrical flower spikes, up to 5 inches (12.5cm) long. The spikelets are sometimes tinged purple and measure approximately 0.5cm long. Pollinated by the wind.
The fruit is a caryopsis. This is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit which is characteristic of all grasses.
Flat, bluish-green basal leaves. Perennial.
Other Names:
Giant Hairgrass, Junegrass, Prairie Junegrass.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Koeleria macrantha, also known as Giant Hairgrass, is a species of grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is commonly found in grassland habitats such as meadows, prairies, and rocky slopes. It is a perennial grass that forms dense tussocks or clumps, with a height that ranges from 20-60 cm. The leaves are narrow and fine, green or bluish-green in color, and have distinctive auricles (small ear-like appendages) at the base. The flowers are formed in dense, spike-like panicles, which are golden-brown in color and appear in summer. This grass species is commonly used in ornamental gardening and landscaping, and also as a forage grass for livestock. It is tolerant of heavy grazing and is known to be drought-resistant.


Crested Hair-grass, or Koeleria macrantha, is a perennial grass species that is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is known for its distinctive, crested inflorescence and its adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions. In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics and benefits of Crested Hair-grass.


Crested Hair-grass is a clump-forming grass that can grow up to 2 feet tall. It has narrow, upright leaves that are about 6-10 inches long and 1/8 inch wide. The leaf blades are flat or slightly rolled, and the tips are pointed. The inflorescence is a dense, spike-like cluster that is usually 2-4 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. The flowers are small and greenish-yellow in color, and they appear in mid to late summer.


Crested Hair-grass is known for its adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions. It can grow in a variety of soils, from sandy to clay soils, and it can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. It is also tolerant of both sun and shade, making it a versatile option for landscaping and restoration projects.


Crested Hair-grass has many benefits that make it a valuable addition to landscaping and restoration projects. One of its primary benefits is its ability to control erosion. Its deep roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it an excellent choice for slope stabilization and bank restoration projects.

Crested Hair-grass is also beneficial for wildlife. It provides cover and habitat for many types of birds and small animals, and the seeds are a food source for birds and small mammals. In addition, it is a host plant for some butterfly species.

In landscaping, Crested Hair-grass is often used for its ornamental value. Its narrow, upright leaves and distinctive inflorescence make it an attractive addition to meadows, prairies, and naturalized landscapes. It can also be used in low-maintenance lawns, where its adaptability and drought tolerance make it a practical choice.

More Information

Crested Hair-grass is also known for its low maintenance requirements, which make it a popular choice for landscaping and restoration projects. It is drought tolerant and does not require frequent watering, fertilization, or mowing, which can save time and money compared to other landscaping options.

In addition, Crested Hair-grass can be used in ecological restoration projects to restore native plant communities. It is often used in prairie and grassland restorations, where it can help to establish a diverse plant community and provide habitat for wildlife.

Crested Hair-grass is also used in agriculture as a forage grass for livestock. It is a nutritious grass that is high in protein and energy, and it can be grazed or harvested for hay.

Despite its many benefits, Crested Hair-grass can also become invasive in some areas. It is important to carefully consider the ecological context and potential impacts before introducing it to a new area.

Crested Hair-grass is an important component of many natural ecosystems, particularly grasslands and prairies. These ecosystems are some of the most threatened and degraded ecosystems in the world due to human activities such as agriculture, urbanization, and industrialization. As a result, Crested Hair-grass is often used in ecological restoration projects to help restore these ecosystems to their natural state and promote biodiversity.

Crested Hair-grass is also used in bioengineering projects to help stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Its deep roots help to hold soil in place, and its ability to thrive in a wide range of soil types and conditions make it an effective choice for erosion control projects.

In terms of its cultural significance, Crested Hair-grass has been used by Native American tribes for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. The Navajo used the grass to make a poultice for treating wounds, while the Blackfoot used it as a ceremonial smudge herb.

Crested Hair-grass is a valuable species that offers many benefits for both ecological and cultural reasons. Its versatility, adaptability, and low maintenance requirements make it a popular choice for a wide range of applications, from landscaping and restoration to agriculture and erosion control.

Crested Hair-grass is also an important species for carbon sequestration, which is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in plants and soils. Grasslands and prairies, where Crested Hair-grass is often found, are among the most efficient ecosystems for carbon sequestration. The deep roots of Crested Hair-grass and other grass species can help to store carbon in the soil, which can help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In addition, Crested Hair-grass can play a role in sustainable land management practices. It is often used in agroforestry systems, where it can be planted alongside trees to provide livestock forage and help maintain soil fertility.

Finally, Crested Hair-grass is a valuable species for scientific research. Its adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions makes it a useful model organism for studying plant physiology, ecology, and evolution. It has been used in a variety of research projects, from studying the effects of climate change on grassland ecosystems to developing new biofuels from plant material.

In conclusion, Crested Hair-grass is a versatile and valuable species that offers many benefits for ecological, cultural, and scientific reasons. Its adaptability, low maintenance requirements, and ability to control erosion, provide habitat for wildlife, and promote carbon sequestration make it a popular choice for a wide range of applications. However, it is important to carefully consider its potential impacts before introducing it to a new area.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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