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.
Seeds of grasses are so small that they are liable to be overlooked in plant beds, and so far this plant has not been found. It grows to-day in N. Temperate and Arctic Europe, N. and W. Asia, Himalaya, N. and S. America, Australasia. It is found in every county of Great Britain, except Salop, Mid Lancs, S.E. Yorks, as far north as the Shetlands, up to 1500 ft. in Derby, and in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The Small Bent Grass is strictly an arenophilous species, growing where Aira proecox and Sheep's Sorrel are found. It is mainly ericetal, being frequent on commons, heaths, and moorland, where also Furze, Broom, Tormentil, Harebell, and other heath plants grow.
This is a tall, erect grass with a slender stem, unbranched, often putting forth stolons or trailing shoots, with the lower part of the stem prostrate at first. The leaves are mainly radical, and narrow, with inrolled flat margins. The lower leaves are bristle-like and tufted. The shoots are leafy and trailing. The ligule is oblong and acute. The sheaths are smooth.
The flowers are in a long panicle, which is narrow before it opens, then spreading almost at right angles, slender and wavy, with rough flower-stalks, and purple to green in flower, and contracted in fruit. The branches are slender and hair-like.
The glumes above are empty, shorter than those below, which are blunt. The awn is bent like a knee, twisted, and above the base of the spikelet. The lower palea is jagged above, the upper absent or very small.
This graceful grass is 18 in. high. The flower is in bloom in July and August. The plant is perennial, and may be propagated by division.
The flowers are bisexual, and pollinated by the wind. The flowers open at 11 a.m. There are 3 stamens, the styles are short, and the stigma is feathery.
The seed is a caryopsis or achene, united to the pericarp, and the fruit is enclosed in a glume, which assists it in being blown to a distance by the wind.
Photo. H. Irving - Small Bent Grass (Agrostis canina, L.)
Small Bent Grass is a sand-lover, and addicted to a sand soil.
Agrostis, Theophrastus, is from the Greek agros, field, and canina, Latin, refers to the silvery-whitish appearance.
It is attacked by a fungus, Tilletia decipiens, which dwarfs the host-plant, and such plants were once known as A. pumila.
Essential Specific Characters: 330. Agrostis canina, L. - Stem tall, leaves narrow, involute below, sheaths glabrous, panicle erect, diffuse in flower, glumes 2, unequal, no inner palea.