Cynosurus cristatus

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaPoaceaeCynosurusCynosurus cristatus


A short-lived perennial herb growing in a wide variety of grasslands, particularly short and heavily grazed swards. It grows in a range of neutral to base-rich, fairly well-drained or damp soils, avoiding only the extremes of base-status, waterlogging, drought and disturbance. Generally lowland, but to 660 m on Burnhope Seat (Cumberland) and exceptionally at 845 m on Great Dun Fell (Westmorland).



World Distribution

European Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1103

Life form information

Height (cm): 75

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Tussock-forming graminoid, may slowly spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2745

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 962

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13

Atlas Change Index: 0.02

Weighted Changed Factor: -23

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (382d)
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Lodge RW
1959.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 70. Cynosurus cristatus L. Journal of Ecology. 47:511-518.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.