T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Briza maxima (Quaking grass)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Monocots
(Unranked):        Commelinids
Order:       Poales
Family:      Poaceae
Genus:      Briza
Species: B. maxima
Binominal name: Briza maxima
Common name: Blowfly grass, Quaking grass, Great quaking grass, Large quaking grass, Blowfly grass, Rattlesnake grass, Shelly grass, Shell grass, Pearl Grass', Trimmling Jockies, Doddering Dillies, Doddering Dickies ,or Quaker Grass, the Briza, Shaking Grass.

Briza maxima is an erect annual grass species native to northern Africa (i.e. northern Algeria, northern Libya, Morocco and Tunisia), southern Europe (i.e. Portugal, Spain, France, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia) and western Asia (i.e. Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey). It is now widely naturalised in other parts of the world (e.g. in the UK, Asia, New Zealand, USA, Central America, South America and Hawaii).
Briza maxima forms a tuft of flat, blue green, linear leaves and it can grow to a height of 60 cm. It develops long-lasting, open panicles of nodding spikelets on slender branches. These nodding heads have oval-shaped, seed heads that hang like scaly heart shaped lockets. When first open, the seed heads are green but gradually as the summer progresses they become tinged with golden/pink/red colours.
Briza earns itself the common name of Quaking Grass because the flower and seed heads tremble on their stalks in breezes.
In New Zealand it is a weed of gardens, footpaths, disturbed sites, waste areas, roadsides, railway lines and grasslands. It can form dense swards (i.e. more than 200 plants per square metre) that impede the growth and regeneration of native plants and significantly decrease species richness.
This species reproduces entirely by seed. Seeds may be dispersed by water, wind or in mud attached to animals and vehicles. They may also be spread about by mowers and dispersed larger distances in contaminated agricultural produce (e.g. fodder).
The seeds and leaves are edible.

Photographed late October


November


January.


January.


Ripe seed heads March.