Briza media L.
Briza media, commonly known as Common Quaking Grass, is a grass with elegant inflorescences which make it a valuable ornamental.
Briza media was described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. The name is considered as validly published. The common name quaking grass refers to the flowers which start quaking in the slightest breeze.
The plants grow to a height of approximately 15 to 75 centimeters, sometimes even to one meter. They have a loosely tufted habitus with erect and slender culms. The plants reach a width of 30 to 60 centimetres.
Briza media is decidious with alternately arranged leaves. They are up to 15 centimeters long and two to seven millimeters wide. The leaves are bluish green and entire, minutely rough margins. The leaves are around 10 to 20 centimetres large and have a glabrous surface.
Flowers and Fruit
The silvery green flowers are often purple tinged and appear from May to September. They are heart-shaped and arranged in loose panicles up to 18 centimeters long. The panicles have a ovate to pyramidal outline and are composed of numerous spikelets that carry four to twelve flowers each. The flowers themselves are nodding to pendant. The inflorescences can be used as cut flowers.
The fruits are caryopses.
The plants have short rhizomes and form loose lawns.
Briza media is native to the whole of Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus. It is often found on poor soils in meadows and grasslands.
The grasses prefer a sunny to half-shady situation on dry to moderately moist soil. The substrate should be sandy-loamy or sandy clay soil with a pH between 6,5 and 7,5. They tolerate temperatures down to -29Â°C (USDA zone 5).
Classification after Prof. Dr. Sieber
- steppes/dry forests (usually calcareous soil)
Briza media is considered a valuable wild perennial. The ornamental value lies especially in the attractive winter aspect. The recommended planting distance is 35 centimetres, the grasses are best planted in groups of 5 to 10. They do well in group plantings as well as in containers. Suited for moorland gardens, rockeries, roof greening and for mixed borders, as well as suited as a neighbour to roses, slope plant and as cut flowers. Good companions are e.g. Antennaria dioica, Campanula, Dianthus, Sedum and Thymus.
Maintenance and Propagation
Cut back the culms in early spring.
Briza media is propagated by dividing the rhizomes in spring or early summer.
- Walter Erhardt, Erich GÃ¶tz, Nils BÃ¶deker, Siegmund Seybold: Der groÃe Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
- Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.