Phleum pratense
(Timothy)
[L.]

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
leaves
inflorescence
spikelets
lemmas
  • 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
palea
  • 2-nerved almost as long as the lemma
florets
  • 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.

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

Habitat:
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.

Other:
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