Phleum pratense

Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae
Family Description: Grass

Key Characteristics:
A bunch grass up to 1 m tall, each stem with a bulbous, hard base
  • blades flat, 48 mm wide, scabrous margined; sheaths open, glabrous; ligules commonly 2-3 mm long, usually entire, but sometimes lacerate, obtuse; sometimes with tiny auricles
  • appears to be a spike, but is actually a cylindric panicle varying from 3-13 cm long, less than 10 mm broad.
  • with one floret per spikelet, articulating above the two identical 3-nerved glumes which remain on the plant after the grains are shed.
  • glumes are different from any other genus with a truncate body 3-4 mm long terminating in an awn commonly 1-1.5 mm long, puberulent on the surfaces, but strongly ciliate on the keels;
  • thin, membranous, 5-nerved, truncate, often pubescent, approximately 2 mm long
  • 2-nerved almost as long as the lemma
  • one per spikelet, with 3 anthers 1.6-2.3 mm long

General Description:
Culms 50-100 cm tall, from a swollen base, forming large clumps; blades elongate, mostly 5 mm wide; panicle 5-10 cm long, 1 cm or less wide; glumes about 3.5 mm long, truncate, with a stout awn 1 mm long, pectinate-ciliate on the keel. Escaped from cultivation over most of N. Am. This is one of our most valuable grasses for forage.

Similar Species:
Phleum alpinum L.

Throughout the U. S. and southern Canada in moist areas.

An introduced grass which seems to appear wherever horses are grazed and is planted with alfalfa as a hay crop, in waste places, old fields, roadsides and railroad embankments, logging roads where planted to prevent erosion.

Phleum pratense is an important forage grass and crop plant for hay, particularly for horse feed; originally from Eurasia. A look-alike is Phleum alpinum L. which is a native grass which has shorter, broader, panicles, lacks a bulbous base and is often purplish in the inflorescence.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos and Information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002