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Species Notebook:

  • Yorkshire-fog

    • Yorkshire Fog: the iconic grass species

      Post date: Sunday, 1 November, 2015 - 00:00

      To my mind there is one grass species above all others that speaks for its kind; Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus). As well as being one of our most widespread and common species it is the one that nearly everyone would recognise even if they could not name it. I am probably a bit odd but I think the emerging flower head of Yorkshire-fog is a thing of real beauty, a beauty that my poor photography cannot capture.

      Found in grassy locations everywhere from meadows to roadside verges to waste ground to open woodland glades, Yorkshire-fog is, to use the favoured Springwatch phrase, the iconic grass species. When first emerging it produces thick, close-knit spikes of purple florets which then open out in to glorious triangular shaped heads with the florets on layers of branches each decreasing in length as you go up the stem with the newest at the top still yet to open, it is like a Christmas tree! The florets become creamy-white as they open.

      It flowers from July until September and can form great swaths of colour gently swaying in the summer breeze, almost a white haze over a meadow and that is, of course, where it gets its name - Yorkshire-fog. It is the food plant of several butterflies, especially the small skipper.


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