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The Gigantic Grass Identification Quiz (UK)

How many UK native grasses can you identify?? Are you a Giant Fescue or a Hairy Brome? 40 questions to test, tease and entertain. The Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes is now available to order from The Species Recovery Trust.

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  1. 1. A spiky flower. But which grass does it belong to?

    Sweet Vernal Grass
    Common Bent
    Red Fescue
    Squirrel-tail Fescue
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)

    Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)
  2. 2. Another spiky one. This grass is found on good quality calcareous grassland and occasionally dunes

    Common Bent
    Common Couch
    Crested Hairgrass
    Annual beard-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Crested Hairgrass (Koeleria macrantha)

    Crested Hairgrass (Koeleria macrantha)
  3. 3. Bit harder...

    Common Bent
    Tufted Hairgrass
    Wood Millet
    Quaking Grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris)

    Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris)
  4. 4. A funny little stiff thing...

    Crested dog's-tail
    Sheep's Fescue
    Fern Grass
    Italian Ryegrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Fern Grass (Catapodium rigidum)

    Fern Grass (Catapodium rigidum)
  5. 5. This one doesn't always look this closed up...

    Cock's-foot
    Crested Dog's-tail
    Sweet Vernal-grass
    Timothy
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata)

    Here it is when it's open...

    Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata)
  6. 6. Not much to go on with this one...

    Rough Meadow-grass
    Red Fescue
    Yellow Oatgrass
    Tufted Hairgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Red Fescue (Festuca rubra)

    Red Fescue (Festuca rubra)
  7. 7. Not rare, but you don't see it that often...

    Meadow Barley
    Sweet Vernal-grass
    Annual Beardgrass
    Yellow Oatgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Meadow Oatgrass (Hordeum secalinum)

    Meadow Oatgrass (Hordeum secalinum)
  8. 8. Bit of a northerly one...

    Purple Moor-grass
    Reed Canary-grass
    Blue Moor-grass
    Smaller Cat's-tail
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Blue Moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea)

    Blue Moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea)
  9. 9. This one is spectacular when it opens up...

    False Oatgrass
    Reed Sweetgrass
    Smooth Meadow-grass
    Yellow Oatgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Yellow Oatgrass (Trisetum flavescens)

    Here it is closed up...

    Yellow Oatgrass (Trisetum flavescens)
  10. 10. No clues here...

    Wood Melick
    Wood Millet
    Tufted Hairgrass
    Rough Meadowgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Wood Millet (Milium effusum)

    Wood Millet (Milium effusum)
  11. 11. Common, but still lovely...

    Crested Hairgrass
    False Oatgrass
    Yorkshire Fog
    Smooth Meadow-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)

    Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)
  12. 12. Something a bit spiky!

    Perennial Ryegrass
    Common Couch
    Italian Ryegrass
    Mat-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Common Couch (Elytrigia repens)

    Common Couch (Elytrigia repens)
  13. 13. This one's gone a bit over...

    Heath Grass
    Blue Moor-grass
    Timothy
    Perennial Ryegrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Heath Grass (Danthonia decumbens)

  14. 14. Ignore the blurry object in the background (no offence to my youngest)

    Yorkshire Fog
    Annual Meadow-grass
    Red Fescue
    Smooth Meadow-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Annual Meadow-grass (Poa annua)

    Open head with slightly clumpy florets makes it a Poa, the one-sidedness makes it annua.

    Annual Meadow-grass (Poa annua)
  15. 15. This one has been bent over to help... the head is longer than 6cm.

    Meadow Foxtail
    Cock's-foot
    Timothy
    Sweet Vernal-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Timothy (Phleum pratense)

    See all those little Devil's horns? The Foxtails have just one awn instead of a pair.

    Timothy (Phleum pratense)
  16. 16. Right, so you can do it when they're flowering. What about when they're not?

    Sheep's Fescue
    Wavy Hairgrass
    Fine-leaved Fescue
    Mat-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Mat-grass (Nardus stricta)

    That's Mr. Grass to you...

    Mat-grass (Nardus stricta)
  17. 17. Who are you calling hairy knees?

    Soft Brome
    Creeping Soft-grass
    Downy Oatgrass
    Yorkshire Fog
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis)

    Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis)
  18. 18. A wet one...

    Reed Sweet-grass
    Bulbous Rush
    Creeping Bent
    Floating Sweet-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Floating Sweet-grass (Glyceria fluitans)

    Floating Sweet-grass (Glyceria fluitans)
  19. 19. A fine leaved grass with a sheath like this...

    Sheep's Fescue
    Red Fescue
    Wavy Hairgrass
    Bristle Bent
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina)

    The sheath is cloaked around the stem rather than forming a perfect tube in the way Red Fescue does.

    Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina)
  20. 20. No clues here!

    Yorkshire Fog
    Common Couch
    False Oatgrass
    Creeping Bent
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    False Oatgrass (Arrhenatherum elatius)

    One of the few grasses with orange tinted roots, plus a distinctive onion like bulge at tis base

    False Oatgrass (Arrhenatherum elatius)
  21. 21. Check out the auricle on that! (you might want to cross-reference with the next question)

    Sweet Vernal-grass
    Tall Fescue
    Yorkshire Fog
    Heath-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Sweet Vernal-grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)

    An auricle with a fringe of hairs (best seen at the start of the growing season)

    Sweet Vernal-grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)
  22. 22. Another hairy fella...

    Sweet Vernal-grass
    Heath-grass
    Downy Oatgrass
    Quaking Grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Heath-grass (Danthonia decumbens)

    In this grass the auricle is more or less replaced by hairs - looking rather like the nose hairs of an ageing Tory politician/Radio DJ/insert other tired cliché

    Heath-grass (Danthonia decumbens)
  23. 23. Deliberately hard - all in the shape of the leaf

    Purple Moorgrass
    Perennial Ryegrass
    Smooth Meadowgrass
    Common Bent
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris)

    No noticeable central vein, leaf tapers off to a spearlike tip...

    Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris)
  24. 24. Looks like a fescue, until you see those mighty ligules!!

    Mat-grass
    Heath-grass
    Bristle Bent
    Wavy Hairgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Bristle Bent (Agrostis curtisii)

    Bristle Bent (Agrostis curtisii)
  25. 25. Not much to work with!

    Meadow Foxtail
    Smaller Cat's-tail
    Timothy
    False Oatgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis)

    A single awn, unlike the double ones of Timothy and Cat's-tail

    Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis)
  26. 26. There's not many things this big and purple!

    Emily Drinkwater
    Tall Fescue
    Perennial Ryegrass
    Giant Fescue
    Purple Moorgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Giant Fescue (Schedonorus giganteus)

    Giant Fescue (Schedonorus giganteus)
  27. 27. You only have to get this to genus...

    Bent
    Meadowgrass
    Oatgrass
    Brome
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Meadowgrass (Poa)

    The mythical 'double tramline' central groove runs down the middle of the leaf. There's quite a few impostors to this diagnostic; Glyceria, Meadow Oatgrass to name but two...

    Meadowgrass (Poa)
  28. 28. I don't think anything can be muddled with this!

    Heath-grass
    Wood Millet
    Bristle Bent
    Wood Melick
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Wood Melick (Melica uniflora)

    Wood Melick (Melica uniflora)
  29. 29. Not the most exciting grass, but definitely the most dazzling stem base!

    Perennial Ryegrass
    Yorkshire Fog
    Purple Moorgrass
    False Oatgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne)

    Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne)
  30. 30. Looks hairy, but is it called hairy?

    Hairy Brome
    Tall Fescue
    Downy Oatgrass
    Tufted Hairgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Downy Oatgrass (Avenula pubescens)

    Downy Oatgrass (Avenula pubescens)
  31. 31. Aah, the camel's eyelashes... 'Les cils de chameau' as they call them in Morroco (which I just made up)

    Hairy Brome
    Soft Brome
    Upright Brome
    Downy Oatgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Upright Brome (Bromopsis erecta)

    Upright Brome (Bromopsis erecta)
  32. 32. And we couldn't leave vegetative ID without this little gem

    Perennial Ryegrass
    Yorkshire Fog
    Creeping Soft-grass
    Little Gem
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)

    Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)
  33. 33. Right, now you get to see the whole plant! In theory that might be easier, except often it isn't!

    Wood Melick
    Tufted Hairgrass
    Wood Millet
    Purple Moorgrass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Wood Millet (Milium effusum)

    Wood Millet (Milium effusum)
  34. 34. Fido?

    Barren Brome
    Meadow Barley
    False Oatgrass
    Wall Barley
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Wall Barley (Hordeum murinum) aka Dogwee Grass

    Wall Barley (Hordeum murinum)
aka Dogwee Grass
  35. 35. Distinctive late season colour...

    False Oatgrass
    Yellow Oatgrass
    False Brome
    Tor-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum)

    False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum)
  36. 36. On heavier soils...

    Tufted Hairgrass
    Purple Moorgrass
    Meadow Oatgrass
    Wood Small-reed
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Tufted Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)

    Tufted Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
  37. 37. Our only native deciduous grass

    Tufted Hairgrass
    Blue Moor-grass
    Purple Moor-grass
    Reed Canary-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea)

    Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea)
  38. 38. The most widely distributed grass in the world!

    Heath-grass
    Perennial Ryegrass
    Annual Meadowgrass
    Creeping Bent
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Annual Meadowgrass (Poa annua)

    Annual Meadowgrass (Poa annua)
  39. 39. Another yellow one...

    False Brome
    Yellow Oatgrass
    Tufted Hairgrass
    Tor-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum)

    Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum)
  40. 40. Deliberately arty and not very helpful photo to finish with!

    Early Hairgrass
    Squirrel-tail Fescue
    Heath-grass
    Mat-grass
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Early Hairgrass (Aira praecox)

    Early Hairgrass (Aira praecox)

The Gigantic Grass Identification Quiz (UK)

Hairy Brome

Still some way to go! (but it is really hard with only pictures...)

Hairy Brome
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Cock's-foot

You're getting there!

Cock's-foot
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Wavy Hairgrass

Top ID skills!

Wavy Hairgrass
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Giant Fescue

You're a grass genius!!!

Giant Fescue
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If you'd like to learn more about grasses, why not come on one of our day courses? All proceeds go to saving rare species! Images and facts all from our forthcoming Grass ID guidebook. Find us on the web for more info!

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