Species of the Month - April 2016

Field Woodrush or Good Friday Grass

Luzula campestris

Luzula campestris

This happy little plant pops up in short turf, including lawns, around the beginning of April, hence its traditional name of Good Friday Grass.  It is not a grass but a member of the rush family.  Woodrushes (Luzula sp.) can be told from other rushes (Juncus sp.) by the long white hairs on the leaves, visible in the photo above.  These hairs are also present on the sheath below the inflorescence.

At the top of the stem there are typically 3-5 stalked flowerheads surrounding one unstalked one.  The heads are often rather nodding and each contains about 4-12 individual flowers.  Each flower has 6 brown tepals, as with all members of the rush family.  The word tepals is used in cases where sepals and petals are hardly differentiated.

Luzula campestris   Luzula campestris

The pale yellow anthers are very conspicuous when the flowers open.  They are normally at least 3 times as long as the filament or "stalk" that supports them, whereas in Heath Woodrush (L multiflora) the anthers are about the same length as their filaments, or up to twice as long.

Heath Woodrush is the only species that could be mistaken for Field Woodrush.  It is a larger plant and is tufted, whereas Field Woodrush is rhizomatous and so the stems arise singly or sometimes 2-3 together, and others will be found nearby arising from the same underground rhizome.  Heath Woodrush is very rarely recorded as early as April, but can cause confusion later in the year when flowers have been replaced by seed capsules in both species.

Luzula campestris   Luzula campestris

Field Woodrush is very common but is under-recorded because it is only noticeable in spring and early summer, and has usually died down completely by July, except in the uplands where the season is less advanced.  It is common in grazed grassland and on road verges, as well as in lawns.

Please send in your Field Woodrush sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your plant, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g quantity, habitat   


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

2 Apr: Found by Carl at Ardchattan in mowed grass and in grazed field.

4 Apr: Plentiful in roadside verge at Dunbeg, Carl

7 Apr: Found by Jan and Sallie in Glen Ure

8 Apr: Found by Jan on her drying green at Ballachulish

9 Apr: In several places along the road from Oban to Glencruitten, Carl

9 Apr: Plenty seen in short grass at Onich, Sallie

13 Apr: Found by Judith at Drimfern, Glen Aray

14 Apr: Found by Sallie in many places in the Point area, Lismore

16 Apr: Found on our LNHG field trip at Ford

30 Apr: Plentiful in grazed turf around the north end of Loch Fiart, Lismore


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous April species:

Apr 2015 - Marsh Violet
Apr 2014 - Hedgehog
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.