Skip Navigation

Yorkshire fog grass (Holcus lanatus)

Yorkshire fog grass is a common species that grows in dense tufts throughout the UK. The species is commonly found on wasteland and water-logged areas.

Common name(s): Yorkshire fog grass, tufted grass and velvet grass

Scientific name: Holcus lanatus

Family: Poaceae


Yorkshire fog grass grows in dense tufts than can grow up to 1 metre tall.

Leaves: grey green in colour and have hairs to make them look and feel soft.

Flowers: flowerheads grow on the end of the stalk and have a purple to red tinge.

Not to be confused with: creeping soft grass (Holcus mollis) which has a similar appearance but is often found in woodland habitats.

Where and when to find Yorkshire fog grass

When: its visible all year round but flowers from May - June

Where: in all grasslands and wasteland; particularly damp or waterlogged areas. It is common

Value to wildlife

Yorkshire fog grass is used as a food plant for the caterpillars the Essex skipper butterfly as well as other butterfly species.

Uses and folklore

This plant can be seen in agricultural pasture although older plants are often inedible to cows and sheep unless there is little to choose from. This species is often grazed on by rabbits.

The Latin name lanatus means woolly which describes the plants texture.


Yorkshire fog grass is common throughout the UK. It presents itself as an invasive species in other countries. It can often be viewed as a weed plant so is often removed from gardens and arable land.

Join Nature’s Calendar

Help us track the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife. Let us know what's happening near you and see your sightings on the map.

Start recording