With so many species of grass being very similar to each other it is a relief to discover one that is unique and that cannot possibly be confused with another; one so distinctive almost anyone with the smallest degree of knowledge could name it. Quaking grass (Briza media) is certainly one such species.
Quaking grass has distinctive little purple heart shaped florets on fine stems that dance in the wind. They are so distinctive one rarely even looks at the leaves which are quite nondescript and towards the base of the stem. Quaking grass is primarily a species of chalk grassland but it can occur in other habitats provided the soil is lime-based; calcareous.
Now actually I lied to you at the outset. Why? Well there is a lesser quaking grass and a greater quaking grass. Both are Mediterranean species that have found their way here and occur along the south coast. Greater quaking grass has large florets that look like small lanterns and lesser quaking grass is quite small and you probably would not encounter it anyway!