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Timothy Grass

Phleum pratense

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, lawns, meadows, mountains, parks, riverbanks, roadsides, towns.

Green, no petals
The flowers of Timothy Grass, commonly found across the UK's meadows and pastures, exhibit a modest yet captivating charm. In slender spikes of muted green, these inconspicuous florets cluster together to form delicate, understated inflorescences. While not ostentatious in color or size, the subtle beauty of Timothy Grass flowers lies in their simplicity and their ability to blend harmoniously with the surrounding grasses. As they sway gently in the breeze, they add a touch of grace and natural elegance to the British countryside, their unassuming presence contributing to the overall tapestry of the meadows, where they serve as an essential food source for livestock and a symbol of the pastoral landscapes that define the UK's rural beauty.
Timothy Grass, a common grass species in the UK, does not produce traditional fruits like trees or shrubs. Instead, it reproduces through seeds, which are an essential part of its life cycle. These seeds, often found at the tips of the grass blades, are small and inconspicuous, showcasing a functional rather than a decorative aspect. They serve as the means through which Timothy Grass propagates and spreads across the countryside, contributing to the lush meadows and pastures that typify the British landscape. While not a traditional fruit, the seeds of Timothy Grass play a crucial role in sustaining the ecosystem and providing forage for livestock, thereby adding to the agricultural and natural heritage of the UK.
The leaves of Timothy Grass, a prevalent grass species in the UK's meadows and pastures, are a defining feature of its character. These long, narrow blades, with their vibrant green colour, exhibit a remarkable adaptability to the British climate. They sway gracefully in the gentlest of breezes, forming dense, lush carpets that carpet the countryside. The leaves' supple texture and finely serrated edges contribute to the overall resilience and hardiness of Timothy Grass, making it a staple forage choice for livestock throughout the UK. These leaves, when closely observed, reveal intricate veining patterns that reflect the intricate beauty of nature, embodying the essence of the British landscape with their enduring presence and contribution to the nation's agricultural legacy.
The fragrance of Timothy Grass, commonly found in the UK's meadows and pastures, is subtle and earthy, reflecting the natural essence of the countryside. As one approaches a field of Timothy Grass on a warm summer's day, a faint, fresh scent permeates the air. It carries hints of grassiness and wildflowers, reminiscent of the lush, green landscapes where it thrives. This fragrance is not overpowering but rather a gentle reminder of the outdoors, evoking a sense of tranquility and connection to the natural world. It is a testament to the simple, rustic beauty that defines the British countryside, where Timothy Grass plays a vital role in maintaining the lushness and diversity of the landscape.
Other Names:
Common Cat's-tail, Common Timothy, Cultivated Timothy, Meadow Cat's-tail, Timothy.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Phleum pratense, also known as timothy grass, is a species of grass native to Europe and Asia. It is a cool-season perennial grass that can grow up to 0.5-1.5 meters tall, it has narrow leaf blades and a seedhead that is about 15-30 cm long, composed of several long, narrow spikes that are densely hairy.

It is commonly found in meadows, pastures, and other grasslands, it can also be found along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is commonly used as a forage grass for grazing animals, such as cows, horses, sheep and goats, it's also used in turf mixtures. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it prefers well-drained soils and a moderate amount of moisture. It can be propagated by seed or division, it's also considered low maintenance and easy to grow. It can also be used for soil erosion control, along stream banks and other erosion-prone areas. It can also be invasive in some areas, and it should be controlled in order to avoid displacement of native vegetation and ecological problems.


Timothy Grass, also known by its scientific name Phleum pratense, is a cool-season perennial grass that is commonly used as forage for livestock, particularly horses and dairy cattle. Timothy Grass is native to Europe, but it has been widely cultivated throughout the world due to its high nutritional value and versatility.

Appearance and Growth Habits

Timothy Grass typically grows to a height of 2-5 feet (60-150 cm) and has a dense, cylindrical seed head that is about 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) long. The leaves are flat and narrow, with a rough texture on the upper surface and smooth on the underside. The plant has a shallow root system, which allows it to tolerate frequent grazing or cutting.

Cultivation and Management

Timothy Grass is relatively easy to cultivate and manage. It can be grown in a wide range of soils, but it prefers well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0-7.0. The plant is best established by seeding in the spring or fall, and it requires about 60-70 days of growth before it can be harvested for the first time. Timothy Grass can be grazed or cut for hay several times per year, but it is most productive during the early spring and late fall when temperatures are cooler.

Benefits and Uses

Timothy Grass is an important forage crop for livestock production. It has a high digestibility and protein content, making it an excellent source of nutrition for horses, dairy cattle, and other ruminants. Additionally, it is a good source of energy, vitamins, and minerals. Timothy Grass is also used as a hay crop, and it can be harvested and stored for later use during the winter months when forage is scarce. In addition to its value as a forage crop, Timothy Grass is also used in erosion control and as a cover crop to improve soil health.

Challenges and Risks

While Timothy Grass has many benefits, there are also some challenges and risks associated with its cultivation and management. The plant is susceptible to some diseases and pests, such as stem rust and armyworms, which can reduce yield and quality. Additionally, overgrazing or improper cutting can lead to soil erosion and reduced productivity. In some cases, Timothy Grass can also cause allergies in humans and animals.

Timothy Grass is a valuable and versatile forage crop that has been widely cultivated throughout the world. It provides high-quality nutrition for livestock, improves soil health, and helps to prevent soil erosion. However, it is important to manage Timothy Grass carefully to prevent disease and pest problems and to avoid overgrazing or improper cutting. With proper management, Timothy Grass can be a valuable component of a sustainable livestock production system.

More Information

One of the key benefits of Timothy Grass is its high fiber content. This makes it an ideal forage crop for horses, as it helps to prevent digestive disorders such as colic and laminitis. Additionally, Timothy Grass has a low sugar content compared to other forage crops such as alfalfa, which makes it a better choice for horses that are prone to metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and equine metabolic syndrome.

Another advantage of Timothy Grass is that it is very palatable to livestock. This means that animals are more likely to eat it than other types of forage, which can help to increase feed intake and improve animal health and productivity. Additionally, Timothy Grass has a high leaf-to-stem ratio, which means that it has a higher nutritional value than other forage crops with a lower leaf-to-stem ratio.

In terms of environmental benefits, Timothy Grass is an excellent cover crop that can help to improve soil health and prevent soil erosion. Its deep, fibrous root system helps to hold soil in place, while the plant's above-ground biomass adds organic matter to the soil and helps to improve soil structure and fertility. Additionally, Timothy Grass can help to reduce nutrient runoff and improve water quality, as it takes up nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil.

While Timothy Grass has many benefits, it is important to be aware of some of the potential risks associated with its cultivation and management. For example, if the plant is allowed to become too mature before being harvested, it can become less palatable and less digestible, which can lead to reduced animal performance. Additionally, if Timothy Grass is not properly managed, it can become invasive and crowd out other desirable plants, which can have negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Timothy Grass can also be used as a bioenergy crop. As a perennial grass with a high biomass yield, it has the potential to be a sustainable source of biofuel and bio-based products. In fact, there are ongoing research efforts to develop new varieties of Timothy Grass that are optimized for bioenergy production.

In terms of management, Timothy Grass can be grazed or cut for hay several times per year, but it is important to avoid overgrazing or cutting the plant too short. If the plant is grazed or cut too frequently, it can become weakened and more susceptible to disease and pest problems. Additionally, if the plant is cut too short, it can reduce the plant's ability to produce new leaves, which can lead to reduced productivity over time.

To maintain a healthy stand of Timothy Grass, it is important to fertilize the soil appropriately and to control weeds and other pests. While the plant is relatively resistant to disease, it can be susceptible to stem rust and other fungal diseases, especially in wet or humid conditions. Pests such as armyworms, cutworms, and aphids can also be a problem, especially during periods of drought or other stress.

In terms of harvesting and storage, Timothy Grass should be cut when it is in the early bloom stage, before the seed heads become too mature. This helps to ensure that the plant has the highest possible nutritional value and palatability. After cutting, the forage should be dried to a moisture content of around 15% and stored in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent spoilage and mold growth.

Overall, Timothy Grass is a valuable crop for livestock production, soil health, and bioenergy production. With proper management, it can provide a sustainable source of nutrition and energy for both animals and humans.


Timothy Grass filmed at the following locations:
  • Bourton-on-the-water, Gloucestershire: 24th June 2023
  • Little Rissington, Gloucestershire: 26th June 2023
  • Clapton-on-the-hill, Gloucestershire: 26th June 2023

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