Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Holcus mollis - Creeping Soft-grass

Grass of the Month for August 2011 

(See other month's grasses)

Which grass has lower sheaths with red and white/pastel green stripes, and is soft to touch, like wincyette pyjamas?

You might say "Yorkshire Fog"..

Yes but so does  Creeping Soft-grass .. and in April so do Soft Brome (Bromus hordeacious) and Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis).

But in August it is easy to recognise Creeping Soft-grass because it is flowering. Each spikelet should haves a bent awn about 2mm long sticking out of it.
In Yorkshire Fog the awn is shorter and is hooked.

I'll try and find a picture of this soon.

Creeping Soft-grass (left below) has hairy nodes but the stem is HAIRLESS below the node
Yorkshire Fog is hairy on the node and on the sheath AND on the stem below the node

Holcus mollis (above) has nodes that are hairy
and the stem below the node is hairless.
Hence the expression "Molly has hairy knees"
The ligule has only short hairs
Holcus lanatus has hairy nodes
is hairy too.
It has long and short hairs on the ligule

Creeping soft-grass has rhizomes and can spread out in a patch over a big area. the other three species just occur as tufts.

Hope to find some pictures soon... well here is one of Yorkshire Fog with its hooked awn
Holcus lanatus has one short hooked awn per spikelet