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Timothy grass - Phleum pratense

Grass of the Month - July

In this, the International Year of Biodiversity, CEL website features a different British Grass each month - Follow these pages and you will be come an expert in grasses too. Well, a little more knowledgeable maybe!

1: January - Reed Canary Grass - Phalaris arundinacea
2: February - The Common Reed - Phragmites australis
3: March - Blue Moor-grass Sesleria caerulea
4: April - Sweet Vernal Grass - Anthoxanthum odoratum
5: May - Meadow Foxtail - Alopecurus pratensis
6: June - Quaking Grass - Briza media
7: July- Timothy Grass - Phleum pratense
8: August - Common Bent - Agrostis capillaris

A grass with a spike-like panicle - is it Timothy or is it Meadow Foxtail?

Look at a spikelet. Foxtail has one fine awn (long hair) per spikelet.

Timothy has symmetrical spikelets with two "horns" - the glumes have points - look like the horns of a devil.

Phleum does not flower until July, so before July a plant with a spike-like panicle is likely to be Meadow Foxtail.

Phleum pratenseBy August nearly all the Meadow foxtail flowers have fallen of their flower stem - or at least are looking very dead.

See May's grass - Meadow Foxtail for a good comparison. Timothy is famous for its swollen shoot base, looking something slightly-like an onion

In June this year I was surveying permanent plots in Hay Meadows in Colt Park Meadows, before Timothy had fully come out into flower. How could I distinguish Alopecurus and Phleum from each other if the plants had no flowers? - (They do stand out from the other grasses there with hairless leaves and emerging (newest leaf) rolled, because they are larger)

These are permanent quadrats- I cannot be digging up the plants.

Look at the back of the base of the blades,(as in the picture on the right ) at the collar area ( the white line at the base of the blade which has the meristematic (growing) tissue ) Timothy had a wider collar than Meadow Foxtail. Timothy also has a long ligule that is about as long as it is wide. Meadow Foxtail has a short ligule.

Imagine the grass was the other way up so that from the back, the collar area looks like a man's shoulders.

Meadow Foxtail looks like hunched, rounded shoulders.

Tmothy's shoulders are held back, as if the person is very proud and confident, or has a coat hanger inside his jacket.

ACTION: Go out and look at the grasses near you.

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