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Curved Hard Grass

Parapholis incurva

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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, 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:
50 centimetres tall
Beaches, cliffs, mud, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, walls.

Green, no petals
A slender, cylindrical flower spike. 3 white anthers.
The fruit is a caryopsis (a type of dry, one-seeded fruit).
A short-growing, tufted, annual grass of the coast although occasionally found inland on salted road verges. The leaves are green, hairless and finely pointed. They are about 2mm wide. Usually shorter than the similar looking Hard Grass (Parapholis strigosa).
Other Names:
Bent Parapholis, Coast Barb Grass, Curved Parapholis, Curved Sea Hard Grass, Curved Sicklegrass, Incurved Spikerush, Sickle Grass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Parapholis incurva, also known as incurved spikerush or bent parapholis, is a species of grass in the genus Parapholis. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including 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. incurva 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.


Curved Hard Grass, scientifically known as Parapholis incurva, is a plant species that belongs to the family Poaceae. It is a native plant in Europe, but it can be found in different regions around the world, including Asia, Africa, and North America.

The Curved Hard Grass can grow up to a height of 50 cm and has leaves that are narrow and long, ranging from 2 to 6 mm in width. The leaves are dark green, stiff, and have a slightly curved shape. The plant produces small flowers in late summer, which are followed by tiny seeds.

Curved Hard Grass is commonly found in grasslands, heaths, and sand dunes, where it thrives in well-drained soils with low nutrient content. It can tolerate drought and is often found in areas with low rainfall. The plant's ability to survive in harsh environments makes it an important plant for soil stabilization, erosion control, and habitat restoration.

In addition to its ecological importance, Curved Hard Grass has several uses in agriculture and horticulture. The plant is used as a forage crop for livestock, as it is highly palatable and has a high nutritional value. It is also used as a cover crop to prevent soil erosion, improve soil fertility, and suppress weeds.

Furthermore, Curved Hard Grass is an ornamental plant that is often used in landscaping and garden design. Its unique shape and texture make it a popular choice for borders, rock gardens, and as a ground cover. It is also used in floral arrangements and as a dried decoration.

Despite its benefits, Curved Hard Grass can be invasive in some regions, particularly in North America, where it has been introduced as a forage crop. Its aggressive growth and ability to spread rapidly can crowd out native plant species, disrupting local ecosystems.

Curved Hard Grass, also known as Curved Hardgrass, has been the subject of scientific research due to its unique physical and ecological characteristics. Studies have shown that the plant contains high levels of essential oils, which have antimicrobial properties and could be used for medicinal purposes.

In addition, the plant has been found to be a suitable bioindicator for heavy metal pollution in soil. Its ability to accumulate heavy metals in its tissues can be used to assess the health of soil ecosystems and the impact of human activities on the environment.

Curved Hard Grass has also been found to have a positive effect on soil structure and nutrient cycling. Its deep root system can penetrate compacted soils, improving soil aeration and water infiltration. The plant's ability to fix nitrogen can also contribute to soil fertility, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

The cultivation of Curved Hard Grass as a forage crop has been promoted as a sustainable alternative to traditional farming practices. Its low water and nutrient requirements, combined with its ability to improve soil health, make it an attractive option for farmers seeking to reduce their environmental impact.

Curved Hard Grass has also been found to have a role in phytoremediation, which is the use of plants to remove pollutants from soil or water. The plant has been shown to be effective in removing heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and zinc, from contaminated soil.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Curved Hard Grass has cultural significance in some regions. For example, in Scotland, the plant is associated with the Gaelic festival of Lughnasadh, which marks the beginning of the harvest season. It is used in traditional Scottish basketry and weaving, and is sometimes included in floral arrangements for weddings and other celebrations.

However, despite its potential benefits, Curved Hard Grass can also have negative impacts on biodiversity in some regions. In North America, the plant has been listed as a noxious weed in several states due to its ability to outcompete native plant species and disrupt local ecosystems. As a result, efforts have been made to control its spread and prevent further ecological damage.

In conclusion, Curved Hard Grass is a versatile and resilient plant species with numerous ecological, agricultural, and cultural applications. Its ability to improve soil health, remove pollutants, and provide habitat for wildlife makes it an important resource for sustainable development and environmental conservation. However, its potential invasiveness highlights the importance of responsible plant management practices to prevent negative impacts on local ecosystems. By balancing the benefits and risks associated with this plant, we can ensure that it is used in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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