Holcus lanatus

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaPoaceaeHolcusHolcus lanatus


A short-lived, tufted perennial found in a wide range of grasslands, including hay meadows, pastures, chalk and limestone grassland, and also occurring in hedge banks, open woodland and moorland. It grows in dry to winter-wet, acidic to calcareous soils, and is most vigorous in moist but not waterlogged habitats. It tolerates mowing and grazing, but not heavy trampling. 0-650 m (Cross Fell, Cumberland), and exceptionally at 845 m on Great Dun Fell (Westmorland).



World Distribution

European Southern-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© G. Toone, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1106

Height (cm): 100

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Tussock-forming graminoid, may slowly spread

Comment on Clonality

Can form quite extensive clones when mown in a lawn

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2797

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 977

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: 1.34

Weighted Changed Factor: -37

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


JNCC Designations


Atlas text references

Atlas (394b)
Beddows AR
1961.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 77. Holcus lanatus L. Journal of Ecology. 49:421-430.
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Thompson JD, Turkington R
1988.  The biology of Canadian weeds. 82. Holcus lanatus L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 68:131-147.