Species of the Month - April 2019

 Hairy Woodrush

Luzula pilosa

Luzula pilosa

Woodrushes (Luzula sp.) differ from Rushes (Juncus sp.) in having long white hairs on the leaves, which are grass-like.  The 4 common woodrush species all come out early in the year; they are Field Woodrush (Apr 2016 Species of the Month), Great Woodrush, Heath Woodrush and Hairy Woodrush.  Hairy Woodrush is small like Field and Heath Woodrushes, but has each flower on its own individual stalk.  The flowers are not at all clustered together but radiate out from the top of the stem.  In Field and Heath Woodrushes the flowers are in clusters at the end of stalks, or directly at the stem top.

Great Woodrush (Luzula sylvatica) also has flowers on individual stalks, but this is a much larger plant whose broad dark green leaves carpet the ground in woodland and whose stems are sturdy with a branched inflorescence, the flower stalks radiating from the tips of each branch.  Hairy Woodrush is a delicate little plant, usually found in small numbers on shady banks or woodland edge.

Luzula pilosa

The flowers are like those of rushes, with 6 brown tepals (not differentiated into petals and sepals), 6 stamens and 3 stigmas.  The tepals have a broad whitish edge and are about 3-4 mm long.

Luzula pilosa

These flowers are at an earlier stage, showing the 3 stigmas.  From our LNHG field trip at Ford in April 2016.

Luzula pilosa   Luzula pilosa

The seed-capsules are green and much longer than the tepals.

Luzula pilosa   Luzula pilosa

It is an attractive plant in full bloom, with the flower stalks in all directions, the older ones curving downwards.

Please send in your Hairy 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

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

Apr 2018 - Three-nerved Sandwort
Apr 2017 - Greater Stitchwort
Apr 2016 - Field Woodrush
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.  Mouse over photos to see credits.