Shivery grass

Briza minor L.

Family: - Poaceae.


Briza is the Greek name for a type of Rye.

Minor means small and refers to the small flower heads.

Shivery grass because it appears to shiver in the wind.

Other Names:

Blowfly grass because the spikelets resemble blowflies.

Lesser Quaking grass because it looks like a smaller version of Quaking Grass.

Quaking grass

Shell grass because the spikelets resemble shells.


A hairless, annual grass, with many papery spikelets on a delicate much branched and symmetrical flower head(inflorescence). The spikelets tend to droop and are up to 0.5 cm long. Each spikelet has 4-7 overlapping florets.

It is native to the Mediterranean and common weeds of bushland that flowers in spring and early summer.





Sparse, basal and along the stem. Leaves rolled in the bud.

Blade - Light green, soft, flat, hairless, slightly rough on top and along the edges, parallel veins and may be striped. 30-150 mm long by 3-9 mm wide.

Ligule - Membranous, oblong, 4-6 mm, flat top(truncate).

Auricles - None.

Sheath - Loose, hairless, striped.


Erect, round, often tufted, 100-500 mm. Hairless and smooth. Occasionally bent at the nodes or base.

Flower head:

Loose, pyramidal or egg shaped panicle. 40-200 mm long. Upright main stem with slender horizontal to ascending branches then fine branchlets with pendulous stalks (4-12 mm long) holding spikelets. Symmetrical. Initially retained in the upper leaf sheath.


Papery 'blow flies', triangular, 2-7 by 4-6 mm, 4-7 shells, almost see through.

Spikelets - More than 10 that are erect or tending to droop. 2-7 mm long by 4-6 mm wide. Plump, slightly flattened, oval or triangular, pale green or purplish. On slender, relatively straight stalks.

Florets - 4-8 per spikelet.

Glumes - 2, cupped around the first pair of florets, green to purplish, almost the same size, 2-3.5 mm long, boat shaped, concave, 3 nerved, persistent, horizontally spreading, obtuse to sub acute tip.

Palea - Smaller than lemma, elliptical, 1.5 mm long, winged. Very fine hairs on the wings.

Lemma - Membranous, concave, rounded tip, green with paler tip and edges. 1.8-3 mm long, broadly egg shaped. Awnless. 7-9 nerved. Tips obtuse and turned inwards.

Stamens -

Anthers -

Disarticulates above the glumes and between the florets.




Key Characters:

Spikelets 2-5 mm long and more than 10.


Life cycle:

Annual. Germinates autumn/winter. Flowers mainly from September to November. Quickly sets seed and dies with the onset of drought or high temperatures.


Low drought tolerance.


By seed.

Flowering times:

August to December.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:

USSR, SW Asia, Mediterranean.



WA - Avon Wheatbelt, Esperance Plains, Geraldton Sandplains, Jarrah Forrest, Mallee, Swan Coastal Plain, Warren Coolgardie, Yalgoo and Murchison regions.



Tolerates a wide range of climates.


Common on sandy soils but occurs on a wide range of soil types.

Plant Associations:

Prefers moist, shaded, open bushland.


Minor weed of crops.


Marginal forage value.


Weed of cultivation, rotation crops, gardens, roadsides and disturbed areas.


None reported.



Management and Control:

Shivery Grass is often associated with highly degraded areas and restoration often achieves control.

Grazing or cultivation provides good control in agricultural areas.

Fire can be used effectively if it is timed just as the plants die in late spring to early summer. A fire intensity of 500-700 kW/m2 (a cool burn) is required and this will also control seed in the litter.64


Less than 50 plants/m2 or 10% ground cover are not likely to reduce flora diversity (Carr et al, 1988).

Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for 3-4 years by hand weeding, mowing, cultivation or herbicides. Close mowing or scorching with a gas burner before flowering in spring and repeated if necessary usually provides good control. Swards with immature seed heads can be mown with a catcher in spring. Don't mow stands with ripe seed as this causes dispersal of the very fine seed. Mowing very close to the ground usually prevents regrowth.

Flowering and seed set are synchronised in late spring to early summer which makes seed set control easier. However, this must be repeated for a number of years to deplete the seed bank in the soil.

A cool burn in late spring to early summer provides reasonable control.

Manual removal is effective for light infestations. Bag and burn plants that have seed.

10 kg/ha 2,2-DPA applied in winter, glyphosate at 2 L/ha applied in winter or spring before flowering or 40 g/ha Achieve applied when the grass has 2-8 leaves in winter provides good control. Repeat annually or if a new emergence occurs for 3-4 years.

For spot spraying, 10 mL glyphosate(450g/L) (or 200 g Propon® plus 25 mL wetting agent) in 10 L water in late winter to early spring before flowering provides good control. Propon® is preferred for early season use because it has some residual action. Most native plants will tolerate these herbicides but higher rates may cause damage.

For highly selective control use 4 g Achieve® plus 10 mL Supercharge® oil per 10 L water and apply between the two leaf and tillering stage of the grass in winter.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Perennial Quaking Grass (Briza media) is naturalised in NZ.

Quaking Grass (Briza maxima) has larger spikelets, 1-2.5 cm long with 7-12 florets, that tend to droop more.

Briza subaristata is perennial, has a denser flower head, shorter pedicels and tends to be one sided towards the base.

Briza rufa is naturalised in NZ.

Briza subaristata is perennial, has a denser flower head, shorter pedicels and tends to be one sided towards the base. It is naturalised in NSW.

Plants of similar appearance:

Annual ryegrass, Barley grass, Brome grass, Darnel, Fountain grass, Guildford grass, Sand fescue, Silver grass, Volunteer cereals, Wild oats, Toad rush, Winter grass.


Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P39. Photo.

Black, J.M. (1978). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P143-144. Diagram.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P22.

Ciba Geigy (1981) Grass Weeds 2. CIBA GEIGY Ltd, Basle, Switzerland. P31. Diagrams.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P 68. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #199.2.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P943. Diagram.

Moore, J.H. and Wheeler, J.R. (2008). Southern Weeds and their Control. (Second Edition). Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. P8-9. Photos.

Paterson, J.G. (1977). Grasses in South Western Australia. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture Bulletin 4007). P31. Diagrams.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P20. Diagrams. Photos.


Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or for more information.