Plants (3)10-40(60) cm tall. Culms stiff, wiry; nodes 1(2) per culm, restricted to the lower part of the culms, pubescent; internodes glabrous. Sheaths smooth, whitish, tough; ligules 0.5- 1(2) mm, blunt; blades 4-30 cm long, 0.5-1 mm wide, stiff, tightly convolute, abaxial (lower) surface hispid, the hairs about 0.3 mm long, adaxial surface scabridulous, ribbed over the veins, tips sharply acute. Spikes (1)3-8 cm long, terminating in bristle, the bristle up to 1 cm long. Spikelets 5-10 mm long, linear, triangular in cross-section, blueish or purplish; lemmas 5-10 mm long, 2-3-keeled, awned, awns 1-4.5 mm long; paleas slightly shorter than the lemmas; anthers 1-4 mm long. Caryopses 3-4.5 mm long, tightly enclosed by the lemma and palea.
2n = 26.
Nardus stricta is native to northeastern Noth America and Eurasia where it grows (from Iceland and the Azores to Mongolia. It grows in nutrient poor, sandy to peaty soils that are neither calcareous nor saline. In the Flora region, it is found as a native in scattered locations from arctic Quebec to Greenland, nothern Michigan and the notheastern US but as an introduced species in Oregon and Idaho where it is listed as a state noxious weed. The stiff, sharp leaves make it unpalatable so it tends to survive in areas of heavy grazing. This, combined with its broad ecological range, makes its potential for spreading in western rangelands a matter of concern.
Hubbard, C.E. 1984. Grasses: A Guide to their Structure, Identification, Uses, and Distribution in the British Isles, ed. 3, rev. J.C.E. Hubbard. Penguin Books, Hammondsworth, Middlesex, England and New York, New York, U.S.A. 476 pp.
Tutin, T.G. 1980.Nardus L. P. 255 in T.G. Tutin, V.H. Heywood, N.A. Burges, D.M. Moore, D.H. Valentine, S.M. Walters, and D.A. Webb (eds.). Flora Europaea vol. 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. 452 pp.