This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Widespread and growing at high elevations, the only knowledge we have so far of this common meadow plant is to be gained from its present distribution in the North Temperate Zone in Europe (except Greece), and all temperate and cold regions in general. It is found in every part of Great Britain, except Glamorgan, Cardigan, Selkirk, as far north as the Shetlands, and up to 3200 ft. in the Highlands and Wales, being found also in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The Meadow Wood Rush is a very common component of our higher pastures and meadows, growing usually at high elevations, and is common to heaths and common-land, where it is very abundant. It is also found in rides in woods, and in meadows which slope down from the hills, and even in valleys.
Like the tall Wood Rush on a smaller scale in habit, having the grass habit, it has several simple stems, which are erect, leafy, smooth, and thickened below. The leaves are hairy, linear, not so long as the stems, and flat, with hairs on the margin. The tips are reddish, not membranous. The bracts below the spikes are unequal.
The brown flowers are apetalous, without a corolla, in terminal cymes, in compact heads or close clusters, 3-4, dense, the spikelets egg-shaped, and stalkless or stalked, the flower-stalks arising from a sheath, edged with hairs. The perianth-segments exceed the capsule, which is blunt, beaked, 3-sided. The anthers are light-yellow.
The Meadow Wood Rush is about 6-8 in. high. It flowers in April and May. This common plant is perennial, and propagated by seeds.
The flowers, as in all the Wood Rushes, are pollinated by the wind. There are 6 stamens with very short anther-stalks. The style is short. The 3 stigmas are wavy, and softly and loosely hairy. When the flower-bud expands the 3 stigmas elongate and wither very quickly. After five to nine days the flower is completely expanded, and after a further interval of a day the anthers are ripe. The flower is open for a day and a half. The plant is thus incapable of self-pollination.
Photo. Flatters & Garnett - Meadow Wood Rush (Luzula campestris, D.C.)
The capsule splits open, the seeds when ripe falling out to the ground.
The plant is attacked by two cluster-cup fungi, Puccinia obscura, P. oblongata. The Lepidoptera Double-line (Leucania turca), Coleo-phora coespitella, C. murinipennella, are found on it.
The second Latin name indicates that it is found on pastures usually dry and heath-like.
The names by which it is known are Sweet Bent, Blackcaps, Chimney-sweeps, Crow-feet, Cuckoo-grass, Davie-drap, God's Grace, Good Friday Grass, Black-head Grass, Peeseweep, Hair-beard, Smuts, Sweeps, Sweep's Brushes. The name Smuts was applied in reference to the black appearance of the flower-heads, and the name Chimneysweeps has the same origin, and children on first seeing it in spring say: