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.
(See illustration, on p. 217)
The distribution of this universal maritime grass is from Denmark southwards, in Europe, and in N. Africa. In Great Britain it is found throughout the Peninsula province, in the Channel province, not in Wilts, only in Essex, and W. Kent in the Thames province, E. Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, W. Gloucs, Glamorgan, Carnarvon, N. Lines, S.E. Yorks, N.E. Yorks, Durham, southwards to Kent, and is absent in Wales elsewhere, and in the Channel Islands.
Squirrel Tail Grass is another of those maritime species which on the south and east coast make a characteristic feature of coastal botanical formations, growing on sandy coasts, and invading the inland districts in a few places where dunes abound.
The stems are prostrate, afterwards erect, smooth, rounded, with numerous leaves. The leaves are short, flat, bluish-green, rough, with downy lower sheaths, the upper ones swollen. The ligule is very short.
The flowers are in an erect spike, with 3 spreading spikelets, rigid, with all the glumes rough, and the inner glume of the middle spikelet is egg-shaped, the others are bristle-like, the lateral florets being lanceolate and imperfect. The spike is erect and thick.
The plant is 1 ft. in height. Mowers are in bloom in June and July. Squirrel Tail Grass is an annual, propagated by seeds.
It is anemophilous, and pollinated, like Common Wall Barley, by the wind. The spikelets are in groups of 3 on the rachis, and form a dense spike. Each is 1-flowered when perfect, but the central or two lateral flowers are often male or sterile.
The fruit is light, and adapted for wind dispersal. Squirrel Tail Grass is a salt-lover, and grows best in saline soil, being also a sand plant and addicted to sand soil.
This plant is galled by Cecidomyia destructor, Diplosis flava, and another fly, Oscinia tritici.
The second Latin name refers to its maritime habitat, and the generic name is the Latin for barley.
This grass is called Squirrel Tail Grass and Squirrel Tail.
Essential Specific Characters: - 346. Hordeum maritimum, Huds. - Stem and leaves as in 345, glumes asperous, inner of lateral florets subovate, spike erect, nearly round.