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Purple-stem Catstail

Phleum phleoides

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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, 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, Timothy Grass, 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:
120 centimetres tall
Grassland, heathland, meadows, mountains, roadsides, wasteland.

Green, no petals
Cylindrical, narrow and tapering spikes, up to 10cm long. Very short awns.
The fruit is dry and one-seeded. The technical name for the fruits of grasses are caryopses.
A Breckland speciality species with blunt ligules and leaves up to 3.5mm wide. Blunt ligules. Similar in appearance to Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense) but that likes to grow on chalk grassland. Purple-stem Catstail grows on sandy grassland habitats.
Other Names:
Boehmer's Cat's-tail, Slender Cat's-tail, Slender Timothy.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Phleum phleoides, also known as slender timothy or slender cat's tail, is a species of grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe and is widely distributed in mountainous regions. The plant is known for its narrow, cylindrical flower heads and hairy leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including meadows, grasslands, and alpine regions. Phleum phleoides is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 80 cm in height. It is commonly found in grasslands and meadows, and is often used as forage for livestock. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Purple-stem Catstail (Phleum phleoides) is a type of grass that is native to North America and Europe. It is a common sight in fields and meadows and is considered an important forage crop for livestock, especially during the summer months. The plant is also known by several other names, including Timothy, Meadow Cat's Tail, and Herd's Grass.

The Purple-stem Catstail plant is easy to identify because of its distinctive appearance. It grows up to 1.2 meters tall and has a slender, purple stem that is covered with fine hairs. The leaves are narrow and typically grow up to 30 cm in length. The plant produces a cylindrical spikelet that is about 10 cm long and resembles the tail of a cat, hence the name. The spikelets contain tiny flowers that bloom from June to August and are attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Purple-stem Catstail is a hardy plant and can grow in a variety of soils and habitats, including wet meadows, pastures, and roadsides. It is also well-suited to areas that have been disturbed, such as abandoned farmland or construction sites. The plant is drought-resistant and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, making it an ideal choice for gardeners and landscapers who want to create a natural-looking lawn or meadow.

In addition to its ornamental value, Purple-stem Catstail is also an important food source for wildlife, especially birds and small mammals. The plant produces large amounts of seeds that are an important source of food for songbirds and other seed-eating birds during the winter months. The seeds are also eaten by mice, voles, and other small mammals, who store the seeds in their burrows for later use.

Purple-stem Catstail is a versatile and attractive plant that is well-suited to a wide range of habitats and growing conditions. Whether you're looking to add some greenery to your lawn or meadow, or you're interested in attracting pollinators and wildlife to your yard, this plant is an excellent choice. With its hardiness, low maintenance requirements, and attractive appearance, it is easy to see why Purple-stem Catstail is one of the most popular grasses in the world.

In addition to its ornamental and wildlife benefits, Purple-stem Catstail is also commonly used as a forage crop for livestock. The plant is rich in nutrients and is especially high in protein, making it an ideal feed for livestock during the summer months when other food sources may be scarce. The plant is also easy to harvest, and it can be cut several times per season without harming the plant. This makes it an ideal choice for farmers and ranchers who are looking to maximize the productivity of their lands.

However, despite its many benefits, Purple-stem Catstail can also become invasive if it is not managed properly. The plant can spread quickly and can displace native vegetation, causing ecological problems in some areas. To prevent this, it is important to monitor the growth of the plant and to remove any unwanted seedlings. Additionally, it is also a good idea to avoid planting the plant in areas where it is likely to spread and to choose other species instead.

Purple-stem Catstail is a versatile and attractive grass that is well-suited to a wide range of uses and growing conditions. Whether you're looking to add some greenery to your lawn or meadow, or you're interested in attracting pollinators and wildlife to your yard, this plant is an excellent choice. Just be sure to monitor its growth and to remove any unwanted seedlings to prevent it from becoming invasive. With proper management, Purple-stem Catstail can be a valuable addition to any landscape.

It is also worth mentioning that Purple-stem Catstail has some medicinal properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and digestive problems. In particular, the plant has been used to make tea and other remedies that are believed to soothe the throat and help to relieve coughing.

The plant's medicinal properties are attributed to the presence of compounds such as flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additionally, the plant is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and magnesium, which are important for maintaining good health.

Despite its medicinal properties, it is important to note that Purple-stem Catstail should not be used as a substitute for conventional medical treatment. If you are experiencing any health problems, it is always best to seek the advice of a doctor or healthcare professional.

In conclusion, Purple-stem Catstail is a versatile and attractive plant that is well-suited to a wide range of uses and growing conditions. With its ornamental and wildlife benefits, forage potential, and medicinal properties, this plant is a valuable addition to any landscape. Just be sure to monitor its growth and to remove any unwanted seedlings to prevent it from becoming invasive, and remember to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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