Velvet grass
Holcus lanatusPoaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerHabitatHabitat
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Yorkshire fog, Common velvet grass, Creeping soft grass, Soft meadow grass, Woolly soft grass
  • Nothoholcus lanatus

The Plant:

  • A perennial grass with a velvety texture. Plants are grayish, soft. Height ranges from 1-3.5 feet tall.

The Leaves:

  • long grass-like
  • gray-green
  • velvety
  • prominent midrib

The Stem:

  • velvety

The Flowers:

  • Pale green to purple tufted, papery, grass-like flowers. Inflorescence wispy and occasionally enclosed within the uppermost sheath. Blooms from May to June.

The Habitat:

  • fields
  • waste places, roadsides and disturbed areas
  • poor, moist soils


  • seeds
  • also spreads vegetatively via decumbent tillers
  • soil disturbance

Key ID Features:

  • Grass
  • gray and velvety all over
  • pale green to purple inflorescence

Similar Species:

  • Creeping soft grass (Holcus mollis) could possibly be mistaken for Velvet grass but does not have the purplish coloration on the panicles and veins of the sheaths. It is also lacking the soft hairs and rhizomes.


  • Velvet grass is an aggressive plant and a prolific seeder if not controlled can become very numerous and threaten botanical diversity.

Growth Form: Grass

Origin: Europe

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Not evaluated

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston