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.
This common maritime grass is found in the North Temperate Zone in Mid and S. Europe, N. Africa, and West Asia, but not in early plant beds. The typical station for this species is in the Channel Islands, and it is merely an introduction on the coasts of Great Britain, as well as inland, as it is also in Ireland. In its native habitat this grass grows on the seashore on coasts normally sandy. It has been brought over to England, and is found on the British coast, but in inland stations it has been dispersed with ballast, coming up in waste places, mills, offal yards, and so on.
The stem is erect, with broad, flat leaves, and the plant is in general taller and larger than the Common Dog's Tail Grass. The bracts are comblike, with long points.
Hedgehog Grass has a dense, spikelike panicle which is narrowed, glossy, lobed, and with comblike branches which have awl-like segments, with a membranous edge, and rough. The awns are short, and as long as the palea. The empty glumes are hyaline, or semi-transparent, the flowering ones green.
This grass is 1-2 ft. high. The flowers are in bloom in July. The plant is annual and propagated by seeds.
The spikelets are in a dense panicle and dimorphous. The floral structure is similar to that of other grasses, with 3 stamens, yellow anthers, short and terminal styles, and feathery stigmas. The flowers are wind-pollinated. The anthers and stigma ripen at the same time.
The fruit is light, and easily dispersed by the wind, the glume and palea being attached to it.
The plant is a salt-lover and found in saline soil.
A butterfly, the Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), is the only insect which is attracted by it.
Cynosurus, Linnaeus, is from the Greek cnon, dog, and oura, tail, from the shape of the spike, and the second Latin name refers to its spinous character. The only name cited by Britten & Holland is Cock's Comb Grass.
Hedgehog Grass (Cynosurus Echinatus, L.)