This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Lyme Grass is not found in any early plant beds. It is distributed in Europe, N. Asia, and N. America in the Temperate Zone. In Great Britain it is found in Somerset, Dorset, S. Hants, Sussex, E. Suffolk, Norfolk. Merioneth, Carnarvon, Anglesea, N. Lines, S. Lanes, S.E. Yorks, N.E. Yorks, Durham, Northumberland, Cheviotland, Cumberland, Ayr, Haddington, Fife, Kincardine, Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin, Easterness, Westerness, Clyde Is., Cantire, N. Ebudes, W. Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Northern Isles. From Essex and X. Wales it ranges to the Shetlands, and occurs in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Lyme Grass is a familiar seashore grass which forms quite a feature along the coast. It grows on sandy shores associated with Hedgehog Grass, Seaside Manna Grass, Squirrel Tail Grass, Sand Sedge, Common Sea Rush, and other maritime favourites of the botanist.
The stems are robust, smooth, round, and give rise to soboles or underground trailing shoots. The leaves are broad, rigid, straight, and erect, with smooth sheaths, which are furrowed, with a short ligule.
The flowers are in an upright, dense spike, with 3-flowered spikelets, and downy. The lower and upper ones are in pairs, the intermediate ones in 3's with a flat rachis. The glumes are downy, lanceolate, not longer than the spikelets. The plant is 3-6 ft. in height. It flowers in July. The plant is perennial, propagated by soboles.
Lyme Grass is anemophilous, with spikelets in two rows, 2-6 flowers in each. There are 3 stamens, and the 2 stigmas are feathery and subsessile. The fruit is attached to the palea, and the glume awn-less, but readily dispersed by the wind.
The plant is a halophyte, addicted to a saline soil, being likewise arenophilous and found in sand soil.
A fungus, Ustilago hypodytes, infests it. Three moths, the Lyme Grass (Tapino-stola elymi), Shore Wainscot (Leucania littoralis), and the Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea basilinea), are found upon it.
Elymus, Dioscorides, is the Greek word for a kind of millet. The second Latin name refers to the sandy habitat.
The plant is called Narrow Bent, Mother of Bent, Lyme Grass. As a littoral plant it is valuable in binding together the shifting sands on the sea-coast. It contains a large percentage (30%) of sugar. Essential Specific Characters: 347. Elymus arenarius, L. - Soboliferous, stem tall, erect, leaves broad, long, ligule short, spike dense, erect, glumes not as long as the spikelets, downy.
Photo. Messrs. Flatters & Garnett - Lyme Grass (Elymus arenarius, L.)