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This charming grass has escaped from agricultural fields and can be found everywhere. The most distinctive feature of this grass is its narrowly cylindrical seedheads; the mature foliage is somewhat coarse. Unfortunately, Timothy is a major cause of allergies in some areas because it releases large amounts of pollen during the first half of summer. For this reason, some people may be less than charmed to find its presence in their neighborhood. While there are other grasses in Illinois that have cylindrical seedheads (e.g., Setaria spp. and Alopecurus spp.), their spikelets are usually more bristly and shiny from the presence of long hairs. The short hairs that are observable on the inflorescence of Timothy are actually paired awns of the spikelets. These awns are flexible rather than stiff while the spikelets are still green. This grass was named after the farmer Timothy Hansen, who advocated its use for agricultural purposes during the early 18th century, hence the common name 'Timothy.'


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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