Phleum pratense L.

HomePhoto1.jpg (1333 bytes)



Author: Alain Peeters

Common names

Timothy (English), Fléole des prés (French), Wiesen lieschgras (German).


Perennial plant, robust, hairless, cespitous. Stems erect, 20 - 100 (- 130) cm high, often bulging at the base and forming a small bulb. Blade rolled when young, large (3 - 10 mm), flat, slightly rough on the margin, rather long (reaching 45 cm), pale green to greyish - green. Ligule strong (reaching 6 mm de long), obtuse, white. No auricles. Spike-like particle, cylindrical, 6 - 20 (- 30) cm long. Spikelets 1- flowered. The weight of 1000 seeds is 0.3 to 0.7 g (small seeds). Chromosome number: 2n = 42 (hexaploid). Physiological peculiarities: Timothy is a tall grass, with erect Stems that produce few tillers compared with perennial ryegrass: 4,000 to 10,000 tillers/m² . The leaves are produced at a slightly faster rate than the leaves of perennial ryegrass. The interval between the emergence of two successive leaves is about 60 - 70 day.degrees against 100 day.degrees for perennial ryegrass. The maximum number of leaves per tiller is important. It amounts up to 6 - 7 (rarely 8) against only 3 for ryegrass. The leaf lifetime is about 360 day.degrees (300 for ryegrass). Timothy is thus able to accumulate quite a lot of standing biomass before senescence appears. That gives it an undeniable advantage on perennial ryegrass in slow management regimes. Timothy is an alternative grass. It can head the year of sowing. Moreover, the following year, an important stem formation is observed after the first cut.


Large climate range but its good cold resistance makes it a very useful forage plant in mountain areas and northern countries. Plant from cold or cool climates.


Sensitive to drought. Plant rainy climates.


Optimum on normally drained to cool soils. Thrives well on rich to very rich soils and slightly acid to alcaline. However has lower requirements than perennial ryegrass. Grows often on soils rich in organic matter. Largely indifferent to soil texture. Less frequent on dry sands. Thrives very well on peat soils if they are not too wet (boggy).


Native to Europe, temperate Asia and North Africa. Has become subcosmopolitan in temperate regions. From the lowlands to alpine levels in mountain areas.