Wednesday 28 July 2010

Phleum pratense - Timothy-grass

Timothy grass  Phleum pratense

Grass of the Month - July 2010

More grasses at:

Phleum pratense growing in the thicker soil in the hollow below the limestone slope near the gate at Lower Winskill.

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 and look like "horns" of a devil. 
Phleum does not flower until July, so before July a plant with a spikelike panicle is likley to be Meadow Foxtail

By August nearly all the Meadow Foxtail flowers have fallen off their stem,  or at least are looking very dead.

But how do you separate the shoots vegetatively? - First you can look at May's grass- Meadow foxtail for a good chart comparison

The easiest way is that Timothy is famous for its swollen shoot base, looking something slightly-like an onion.

The picture on the right of a young plant formerly growing by a trampled bridletrack shows a not very good onion shoot-base. It also shows how the blades can spiral on their own axes, and that the blades are shortish, can stick out at right angles (but later in the year they actually grow upright). It shows the blades can be a bluish whitish version of green. It shows that the old basal shoots are a pale fawnish colour (i.e. not dark red or dark brown as sometimes the case in Alopecurus, and not bright yellowy chestnut brown as can occur in Briza)  

But what if you don't want to uproot the plant? In June this year I was surveying some permanent plots in an experiment  in a haymeadow at Colt Park. - One cannot go round digging up plants! I could distinguish both Alopecurus and Phleum  from the other flowerless grasses as they are  larger than other grasses there in the "newest leaf rolled and leaves hairless" category.

This is what I found:-

Look at the back of the base of the blades, 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 very 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.
Timothy's shoulders are held back, as if the person is very proud and confident, or has a coathanger across his shoulders inside his jacket.

Now if you see me slouching and then suddenly sit up straight, it is not because I am pretending to have a coathanger across my shoulders - it is because I am pretending to be like Timothy grass.

With a good handlens you can see the tiny teeth or  bristles on the edge of the blade of Timothy

If you hold a blade of Timothy to the light it has an  interesting pattern 

There is more I could add - but Hey, that is for another day.

More grasses at:

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Coffee Morning 3rd August 10am

Hurray! We have a Coffee Morning organised for the Rainforest Fund - It is this coming Tuesday on Augsut 3rd at 10 am in the church foyer.
All welcome
Come and enjoy the scones and cake.

Buy beautiful Greetings cards.

Buy the new 2011 calendars, ready to post as presents.

Invite your friends.

See you!!!