Photo courtesy of James R. Johnson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1992. Western wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. West Region, Sacramento.
Phleum pratense L.
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Life Span: Perennial
Growth Characteristics: A perennial bunchgrass, growing 2 to 3 ½ feet tall, with a swollen or bulblike base, without rhizomes. It starts growth in early spring, flowers May to August, and reproduces from seeds and tillers.
Seedhead:Dense, cylindrical, symmetrical spike-like panicle, 2 to 5 inches long, several times longer than wide; spikelets flattened, contain a single floret; seed enclosed by persistent, hairy-fringed glumes, each glume producing a short, bristle awn.
Leaves: Glabrous, distinctly veined on blade and sheath; blades flat to somewhat keeled, 4 to 8 inches long, up to 3/8 inch wide, tapering toward the tip, with midrib prominent on upper surface; leaves rolled in bud; ligules up to 1/8 inch long, membranous, rounded or bluntly pointed, with a finely toothed margin, auricle absent.
Timothy is an introduced grass common in nearly all Utah meadows. It occurs mostly on overflow or run-in sites, but it does well on mountain and high mountain loam sites, especially where seeded under quaking aspen. It is cold tolerant, and has poor drought tolerance.
Soils: It does best on moist, well-drained, deep, irrigated soils of medium textures of the types occurring in the mountain and high mountain areas of Utah. It is fairly salt and alkali tolerant.
Associated Species: Mountain brome, smooth brome, waterleaf, and quaking aspen. In wetter areas, it is commonly associated with redtop, Kentucky bluegrass, broadleaf sedge, and wirerush.
Uses and Management:
Timothy has good to excellent forage value for all classes of livestock, as well as for deer and elk. It is intolerant of heavy, season-long grazing.
Timothy is a fairly good hay and irrigated pasture plant, especially for horses, but also other species of domestic livestock. Where horses are not overweight, a mixture of alfalfa and timothy is of better nutritional value than straight timothy or timothy plus other grasses.
Management of this grass in pastures should include light, frequent irrigations, but avoid over-irrigation. Avoid grazing while the pastures are still wet. Allow the plant to develop enough leaf surface that it can manufacture additional herbage as the animals utilize it. Application of nitrogen fertilizer is recommended where there are not sufficient legumes in the sward to maintain an adequate level of nitrogen for the grasses.