Deschampsia cespitosa

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaPoaceaeDeschampsiaDeschampsia cespitosa


A tufted perennial growing on poorly-drained, mildly acidic, neutral or basic soils in woodland, rough and marshy grasslands, fen-meadows, grass-heath, and a wide range of montane habitats. It can rapidly colonise bare ground and tolerates some disturbance. It is morphologically and cytologically variable and either proliferates or sets copious seed. 0-1235 m (Ben Macdui, S. Aberdeen).



World Distribution

Circumpolar Wide-boreal element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 6

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 5

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1099

Life form information

Height (cm): 150

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Tussock-forming graminoid, may slowly spread

Clonality - secondary

Detaching ramets on inflorescence

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2684

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 837

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 3

Atlas Change Index: -0.09

Weighted Changed Factor: -28

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 (394d)
Davy AJ
1980.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 149. Deschampsia caespitosa (L.) Beauv. Journal of Ecology. 68:1075-1096.
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.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.