Clawford Nature Trail.

Reeds and Grasses.


Barley Grass.

Barley is native to western Asia and was first cultivated in the Middle East. It thrives in a wide range of climatic conditions and today is cultivated in more than a hundred countries. Most of the leading producers are in Europe, where barley is grown well within the coldness of the Arctic circle to the north and widely in the warmth of the Mediterranean region to the south. Outside of Europe, the leading producers are Canada and Australia.



This dense, tufted perennial grass has bluish-green leaves that are flattened at the base and are sharply pointed.

The long flowering stems are topped with pyramidal, branched, densely packed, purplish flower spike-lets vaguely reminiscent

of a chicken's foot, hence the name. It grows erect to about 15 cm -1.4 m tall.

This plant is often found in woodland rides, meadows, and rough grassland. It is an important ingredient of hay meadows and natural pastures, and is the food plant of several butterflies and moths, such as the large skipper, speckled wood and the Meadow Brown butterflies, and the drinker moth.


Common Bent. 

The native, common Bent grass is found in dry heaths and grass land, preferring slightly acid soils.

Grows to 70 cm tall.

Smooth stems with lance-shaped, flat, 4mm wide, rough with smooth sheaths, leaves.

Flowering June to August.

Food plant for Wall Brown Lava.





Common Reed. 

The common Reed is a cane like perennial grass that grows to 3.5 metres in favourable sites.  Stems are round and hollow with flat leaves along it's length.

The grass of wetlands forming dense stands.

Grows in mud or shallow water by waterways and fens and often also along edges of salt marsh.

Flowering August to October. Silky hairs along the flowers axis gives it a silky appearance.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food for fish and other wild life species. After aquatic plants die, their decomposition provide bacteria and fungi and provides food for many aquatic invertebrates. Many species of birds use the Common Reed seeds and use the plants thick colonies for shelter.

Cotton Grass. 

30cm tall perennial of wet acid soils throughout Britain.

A perennial plant that likes marshes and boggy acid soils.

The white cotton balls appear in late spring until the first frost.

The seed heads are the 'cotton' of the name.

Flowers June August.



Culm Grass.

Over 50% of Devon's Culm Grassland is in danger of being lost due to neglect.

Culm Grassland is a marshy, heath like vegetation that occurs over the slates and shale's across north western Devon.

It is a very diverse wildlife habitat, often extremely rich in wild flowers and supporting an immense range of other wildlife.

Culm Grassland has declined sharply in extent since the 1970s, and Clawford represent an important reservoir for the wildlife of this area.



Greater Pond Sedge. 

100 150cm tall tussock forming perennial, spreading by strong rhizomes. Brown flowers from May July.

A native of ponds, marshes and stream sides.  Thrives on being deeply planted in a pond, up to 18" below the surface of the water.

Foliage is green with white stripes with blades growing up to 60 cm. long.

Food plant of the Sword Grass moth.



Purple Moor Grass. 

A tussock forming perennial grass which unusually for a native grass, dies back to a bulb like stem in autumn.

Can grow to 1 metre, but usually only 30- to 5cm.

Flowers with purple stamens in late summer, hence the name. Purple moor grass thrives on poorly drained sites in lowland areas.

Rough Meadow-Grass.

A perennial grass, 60 80cm tall with rough leaves and stems.

Flowering June, July and August.

Very common throughout British Isles.  Likes damp places and disturbed ground.

Very common in meadows and pastures, especially in rich soils but also frequent on waste and cultivated land and around ponds.

A good food plant of the Gatekeeper and many Skipper butterflies.

Native of open woods, marshes and damp grassland.



Soft Rush. 

60 120cm tall densely tufted perennial, with smooth glossy leaves.

Pale brown flowers with yellowish brown seed capsules from June August.

A native of damp pastures and stream sides, bogs and damp woods.

Submerged parts of this plant provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food for fish and other wild life species.  Water foul, game birds and song birds will consume the seeds of soft rush.


Tall Fescue. 

120 to 200cm tall perennial of rough and marginal ground.

The grass, often cultivated in wet pastures, is a perennial growing in clumps with medium sized leaves that are ribbed on top.

Flowers in a panicle, often 45cm long, in June to August.

Wavy Hair Grass. 

A beautiful native grass, found growing naturally on dry grassland and on moors & heaths.

Wavy hair grass has wiry leaves and delicate, shaking panicles formed of silvery or purple-brown flower heads on wavy, hair like stalks.  Stems grow to about 25 to 50 cm. tall. Spikelets are about 4 to 6 mm. long.

Two flowers appear at the same level as the spikelet.

This is one of the grasses which the 'Wall Brown' butterfly lays its eggs.

Wild Oats. 

An introduced annual weed. Wild-oat is common in much of England, especially the south and west. It occurs on most soils, heavy, light, acid and alkaline.
Wild-oat flowers from June to October. The flowers are normally self-pollinated but some out-crossing can occur. Seeds become viable around 10 days after fertilization. In the absence of competition a single well-tilled plant could produce up to 2000 seeds.



Found in damp woodland this grass forms large clumps and grows 10 to 20cm tall flowering rush with faint reddish brown flowers and are bourne in clusters on stalks.

Flowers in  April May & June.

Excellent for growing in damp open sites.


Soft hairy perennial 20 to 100cm tall.

Flowers May to August.

Very common grass, found in a variety of situations, from heavy loams to sandy soils, dry or wet conditions.