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Hard Grass

Parapholis strigosa

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, 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:
50 centimetres tall
Beaches, mud, roadsides, saltmarshes, sand dunes, seaside, walls.

Green, no petals
Very slender flower spike with one-flowered spikelets.
The fruit is a caryopsis which is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit.
A stiff-looking, annual grass with very short ligules. Often found on bare ground or in grassy places by the sea.
Other Names:
Sea Hard-grass, Slender Barb-grass, Slender Spikerush, Stiff-haired Parapholis.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Parapholis strigosa, also known as Slender Spikerush or Stiff-haired Parapholis, is a species of grass in the genus Parapholis. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, and it's commonly found in coastal and sub-coastal habitats such as salt marshes, sandy beaches and dunes. It forms dense clumps of narrow leaves and can grow to a height of up to 0.3-0.5 meters tall. The plant produces spikes of small greenish-brown flowers in the summer.

P. strigosa is tolerant to salt, drought and can colonize and stabilize sandy and saline soils. It's valuable for coastal habitat restoration, it can provide valuable habitat for wildlife and plants, and it's also suitable for landscaping and ornamental horticulture, particularly in coastal regions. It is able to establish itself in a wide variety of coastal and inland salt marshes, and can also be found on saline soils. Due to its adaptation to harsh conditions, it can be a useful plant for erosion control and restoration of coastal habitats. It should be managed carefully, as it can become invasive in some regions and outcompete native plants, especially in habitats where it is not native.


Hard Grass, also known as Parapholis strigosa, is a common annual grass species found in many parts of the world. It belongs to the family Poaceae and is characterized by its small stature, tough leaves, and wiry stems. While it may not be the most glamorous plant in the grass family, Hard Grass plays an important role in many ecosystems and has a variety of interesting characteristics worth exploring.

Physical Characteristics

Hard Grass typically grows to a height of 10-40cm and has a shallow root system that allows it to thrive in a variety of soil types. Its leaves are narrow, tough, and pointed, with a distinctive midrib that gives them a slightly folded appearance. The stems are thin and wiry, often branching near the base of the plant. Hard Grass produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are green or purplish in color and typically bloom from June to August.

Habitat and Distribution

Hard Grass is native to Europe, but it has since been introduced to many other parts of the world, including North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. It is a common weed in many agricultural fields, pastures, and disturbed areas, and it can also be found in natural habitats such as forests, meadows, and grasslands.

Ecological Role

Despite its unassuming appearance, Hard Grass plays an important role in many ecosystems. It is an important food source for many grazing animals, including rabbits, hares, and deer. It also provides cover and shelter for small animals and insects, and its seeds are an important food source for many bird species.

In addition to its ecological importance, Hard Grass is also known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It is able to grow in both wet and dry soils, and it can withstand both hot and cold temperatures. This adaptability has allowed it to become a successful invasive species in many parts of the world.

Uses and Benefits

While Hard Grass is primarily considered a weed in agricultural settings, it does have some benefits for human use. It has been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and it has also been used as a natural dye for fabrics. Additionally, the seeds of Hard Grass can be ground into a flour that can be used to make bread or porridge.

More Information

Overall, Hard Grass may not be the most glamorous plant in the grass family, but it plays an important role in many ecosystems and has a variety of interesting characteristics. Whether you encounter it as a weed in your garden or as a food source for wildlife in a natural habitat, Hard Grass is a species worth appreciating for its resilience and adaptability.

In addition to the uses and benefits mentioned in the previous section, Hard Grass has some other interesting features worth exploring.

One notable characteristic of Hard Grass is its ability to self-pollinate, which allows it to reproduce even in environments where there are few other individuals of the same species. This self-fertilization is facilitated by a unique structure of the flowers, which have both male and female reproductive parts and are held close to the stem of the plant, making it less likely that they will be pollinated by other plants.

Hard Grass is also known for its tolerance to herbicides, which makes it a difficult weed to control in agricultural settings. While some herbicides are effective against Hard Grass, it can quickly develop resistance to these chemicals, making it a persistent problem for farmers and gardeners.

Hard Grass has some cultural significance in certain parts of the world. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is used to treat fever and urinary tract infections, and it is also believed to have diuretic properties. In some European countries, Hard Grass is used as a component of herbal tea blends and is believed to have a calming effect.

Another interesting characteristic of Hard Grass is its ability to grow in nutrient-poor soils. This is due to its deep roots, which can penetrate into the soil to access nutrients that other plant species cannot reach. This ability to grow in nutrient-poor soils makes Hard Grass an important species in the restoration of degraded lands and the prevention of soil erosion.

Hard Grass is also known for its allelopathic properties, which means that it can release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plant species. This allows Hard Grass to outcompete other plants in its environment and can contribute to its success as an invasive species.

Despite its ability to be a difficult weed to control in agricultural settings, Hard Grass can have some positive impacts on soil health. The plant's deep roots can help to break up compacted soils, improving soil structure and allowing for better water infiltration. Additionally, the plant's tough leaves can help to protect soil from erosion and reduce soil moisture loss.

Overall, Hard Grass is a fascinating plant species with a variety of interesting and unique characteristics. While it may be considered a weed in some contexts, it plays an important role in many ecosystems and has a variety of potential uses and benefits for human societies. As with any species, it is important to carefully consider the impacts of Hard Grass on its environment and take steps to manage its growth in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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