Meadow foxtail

Alopecurus pratensis

Meadow foxtale, photo: Arne Ader

Meadow foxtail and Timothy-grass are two very common Poaceae in Estonia. They are often mistaken for one another. Their spikelets form a long dense spikelet inflorescence. Our other Poaceae do not have such regular roll-shaped flowers. Meadow foxtail and Timothy-grass are also very similar in terms of size and overall appearance. However, they do have significant and easily recognisable differences. For example, meadow foxtail starts to bloom earlier than Timothy-grass. We can see the beautiful inflorescences of meadow foxtail on roadsides and meadows as soon as at the end of May and the beginning of June. The shape of their inflorescences is also different. The inflorescence of Timothy-grass is equally thick; that of meadow foxtail, however, becomes slimmer in the top. The most certain way to distinguish them, however, is the following: hold the inflorescence of the flower between your fingers and bend it to the shape of a round. If you see a beautiful and level round, you are holding Timothy-grass. If, however, you can see notches coming out of the round, you are holding meadow foxtail. The long transparent hair in the inflorescence of meadow foxtail also become visible. Timothy-grass does not have these. Both plants are excellent feed plants. In addition to domestic animals, many wild animals also need them to survive. Meadow foxtail grows in natural habitats, which means that it is somewhat more common that Timothy-grass. Both of these are also cultivated in cultural fields. Meadow foxtail prefers damper meadows, but in addition to dampness, this plant also requires soil that is rich in nutrients.