rough bentgrass

(Agrostis scabra)

Conservation Status
rough bentgrass
Photo by Nancy Falkum
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable (see below)


In 1984 Agrostis geminata, considered by some Agrostis scabra var. geminata, one of several described varieties of this species, was listed as Special Concern in Minnesota due to its limited habitat type. It was delisted in 2007 because the varieties of A. scabra are no longer recognized and the species as a whole is considered stable. NatureServe has not yet updated its conservation status for the state.

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Rough bentgrass, also called ticklegrass, is a widespread and very common grass. It is native to eastern Asia and North America. In North America it has been recorded in every state and province except Oklahoma, but it is uncommon to rare in the southeast and in the lower Midwest United States, and uncommon in the Canadian high arctic. It is very common in Minnesota. It is found in a wide variety of habitats and grows in a wide range of conditions. It is found in open woodlands and forest openings; in prairies, shrublands, and meadows; in swamps, bogs, and marshes; on stream and lake margins; and on roadsides, in ditches, and in other disturbed areas. It grows under full sun, but it is tolerant of shade. It grows in soil that is moist, moderately moist, or dry, that may be sandy, gravelly, or loamy. It is a pioneer species, one of the first to invade recently disturbed areas, including abandoned fields and forest clearcuts. It flowers from June to September depending on location and it sheds its seeds in late summer. At a distance a group of mature tufts looks like a purple haze.

Rough bentgrass is a perennial, cool season (C3) grass that rises on basal leaves and a clump of multiple stems from a fibrous root system. It does not form underground horizontal stems (rhizomes) or produce above-ground runners (stolons).

The stems (culms) are hairless, round in cross section, unbranched, and 6 to 36 (15 to 90 cm) tall. They may be erect or curve upward from the base (ascending). There are usually 1 to 3 areas (nodes) below the middle of the stem from which the leaves emerge. The nodes are slightly swollen, dark, and hairless. Between the nodes the stem is hollow.

Most of the leaves are basal. Basal leaves are linear, 1½ to 5½ (4 to 14 cm) long, 132 to (1 to 3 mm) wide. The upper surface is slightly rough to the touch and the margins are rolled inward toward the upper side. Basal leaves are usually present at flowering time. Stem leaves are similar, but the blade is shorter and flat. The base of the leaf that wraps around the stem (sheath) is open, hairless, and usually smooth, sometimes minutely roughened. The collar is not strongly developed. It does not have developed shoulders, ear-like projections (auricles), or hairs on the sides. The ligule is membranous, translucent, 116 to 316 (2 to 5 mm) long, and irregularly torn at the tip.

The inflorescence is a branched arrangement (panicle) at the end of each flowering stem. The panicle is diffuse, reddish-purple, broadly egg-shaped in outline, 3 to 10 (8 to 25 cm) long, rarely longer, and 316 to 8 (0.5 to 20 cm) wide, often as wide as long. At maturity the panicle often detaches as a unit at the base, forming a tumbleweed. The lowest node has 2 to 7 branches. Lower branches are 1½ to 4¾ (4 to 12 cm) long. The branches are widely spreading to ascending, sometimes drooping, flexible, rough to the touch, and branched again above the middle. The spikelets are well spaced, not crowded, at the ends of the branchlets.

The spikelets are lance-shaped and greenish-purple at first, often purple at maturity. Each spikelet has a lower and an upper sterile bract (glume) at the base and a single floret. The glumes are lance-shaped, keeled, and rough, at least toward the tip. The lower glume is 116to (1.8 to 3.4 mm) long. Subtending the floret there is and outer bract (lemma) and an inner bract (palea). The lemma is 132 to 1 16 (1.4 to 2.0 mm) long and narrowed to a slender point at the tip. Five prominent veins are visible on the outer surface. There may be a 1128 to (0.2 to 3.0 mm) long bristle-like extension of the midvein (awn) at the tip. Sometimes there is no awn. The palea is minute, up to 1128 (0.2 mm) long, or is sometimes absent. There are three stamens. The anthers are 164 to 1 32 (0.4 to 0.8 mm) long.




6 to 36 (15 to 90 cm)


Similar Species


Moist, moderately moist, or dry. Open woodlands, forest openings, prairies, shrublands, meadows, swamps, bogs, marshes, stream sides, lake margins, roadsides, ditches, and other disturbed areas. Full sun. Sandy, gravelly, or loamy soil.




June to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Poales (grasses, sedges, cattails, and allies)  


Poaceae (grasses)  
  No Rank BOP clade  
  Subfamily Pooideae  
  Supertribe Poodae  
  Tribe Poeae  
  Subtribe Agrostidinae  


Agrostis (bent grass)  

Subordinate Taxa


Up to six varieties have been described in the past, but no subspecies are currently recongized.




Agrostis geminata

Agrostis hyemalis

Agrostis laxa

Agrostis laxiflora

Agrostis nootkaensis

Agrostis nutkaensis

Agrostis peckii

Agrostis scabrata

Agrostis scabriuscula

Agrostis torreyi

Trichodium album

Trichodium laxiflorum

Trichodium montanum

Trichodium scabrum

Vilfa scabra


Common Names


hair grass

rough hair grass

rough-hair grass

rough bent

rough bentgrass

southern hair grass

tickle grass


winter bent grass















Growing upward at an angle or curving upward from the base.



In grasses: The area on the back of a grass leaf at the junction of the sheath and the blade. On moths: the upperside of the prothorax.



The hollow or pithy stem of a grass, sedge, or rush.



A chaffy, empty, sterile bract at the base of a grass spikelet. Glumes usually occur in pairs, but occasionally only one is present.



The outer, lowermost of the pair of bracts at the base of the grass floret; it ensheathes the palea.



In grasses and sedges, a membranous appendage at the junction of the leaf and the leaf sheath, sometimes no more than a fringe of hairs. In flowering plants, the flat, strap-shaped, petal-like portion of the corolla of a ray floret.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem.



An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.



Cool Season or Warm Season?

Rough bentgrass flowers in the summer, from July to September, but it is classified as a cool season grass. All grasses in the BOP clade (sometimes called the BEP clade) are cool season grasses.

As the names suggest, cool season grasses tend to flower in the spring and warm season grasses tend to flower in the summer. The term “cool season” is shorthand for C3. It is the “normal” photosynthetic pathway common to most plants, in which the first carbon compound produced contains three carbon atoms, and oxygen is eliminated through photorespiration. The term “warm season” is shorthand for C4, in which a four-carbon atom compound is produced, carbon is separated from oxygen in specialized cells, and photorespiration is not required.

Rough bentgrass is a C3. grass that flowers in the warm season.

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Nancy Falkum

    rough bentgrass      





Agrostis scabra - rough bentgrass
Matt Lavin
  Agrostis scabra - rough bentgrass  

Rough bentgrass is a perennial bunchgrass, likely short lived, common to roadsides and trailsides. The inflorescence bears spikelets only at the branch ends, thus the long naked inflorescence branches are distinctive. Also, the entire inflorescence senesces and abscises from the basal leaf bunch and drifts away as a tumble grass.




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Other Videos
  Tickle Grass Agrostis scabra Update - Native Grass
Cricket for Baseball People

Jun 9, 2022

I'm experimenting with this native grass to see if it's suitable as a cool season (C3) grass for a blend of C3/C4 grasses on a sporting (cricket) field.

I want to see how it behaves when I mow it, and how well it tolerates dry conditions without watering.




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  Nancy Falkum

Location: Weaver Dunes Preserve, Cox Unit

rough bentgrass





Created: 11/5/2022

Last Updated:

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