Yorkshire-fog

©Philip Precey

Yorkshire-fog

Scientific name: Holcus lanatus
The soft, downy look of Yorkshire-fog makes it an attractive plant, even if it is considered a weed of cultivated land! It is also attractive to the caterpillars of the Small Skipper butterfly as a foodplant.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 1m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Yorkshire-fog is a tufted, grey-green and downy plant of meadows, woodland rides, waste ground and lawns. Its purple-tinged flower heads appear from May to August. It can produce dense stands that push out other species and is can be considered a weed of arable land.
However, it is still valuable to wildlife and is the main foodplant of the caterpillars of the Small Skipper butterfly.

How to identify

Yorkshire-fog has grey-green leaves and cylindrical, tightly packed flower heads that have a purple-red tinge to their tips. Both the leaves and the flowers have a 'soft' appearance.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Because of its soft look, Yorkshire-fog is known as 'Velvet Grass' in North America. Here, it probably got its name from a description of how it looks at a distance: misty and grey with a purple tinge, which is something between northern smoke-billowing factories and heather moorland!

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of buttercups in your lawn or nettles near your compost heap, to see who comes to visit? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.