Scientific name:

Phleum pratense L.


Agronomic Grass


Bulkley - Nechako

Cariboo - Fraser Fort George


Northeast - Peace Liard

Thompson - Okanagan

Typical BEC range:

Boreal White and Black Spruce

Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir

Interior Cedar-Hemlock

Interior Douglas-fir

Ponderosa Pine

Sub-Boreal Pine-Spruce

Sub-Boreal Spruce

Annual precip. min (mm):


Annual precip. max (mm):


Seed size:


Seeds per kg:


Typical seeding objectives:

Erosion control

Forage enhancement

PR Suitability note:

Timothy is highly suitable for the Peace Region. Some stands managed for seed production in the Peace Region have been established for 18 years or more.

Key considerations:

Timothy is highly productive, but regrowth characteristics are not as good as other species in intensively managed pasture applications.

General Description:

Timothy is a widely adapted, cool season perennial bunchgrass. It is considered hardy and reliable, but does not tolerate drought well. Roots are wide spreading, shallow and fibrous with heaviest concentration of roots within top 7.5 cm (3 in.) of soil. Swollen bulbs or corms develop just below the surface and store nutrients for winter survival and regrowth after cutting or grazing. It has strong tall stems up to 120 cm (47 in.) tall. Leaves are hairless and rolled during the bud stage. They are relatively wide, up to 12 mm, and flat. The seed head is a spike of densely packed, bristle-like spikelets, each producing a tiny, dark brown seed.


Originated in Europe. Most introductions of timothy into Canada came from United States.


This introduced species is common throughout British Columbia.

Habitat and climate:

Best adapted to cooler, higher rainfall regions or wetter areas.


Used in pasture, domestic and export hay, seed production in the Peace and Creston areas of British Columbia. It has some use for erosion control in post-wildfire rehabilitation, but only when seeded in mixtures.

Optimal time of grazing use:

Early in summer for most livestock. It should not be grazed too early or too closely, due to the locations of the growing point for elongation.

Recovery after use (rating):


Recovery after use:

Regrows slowly if cut or grazed in late summer. Because timothy is not sod producing, it is intolerant of grazing hoof damage. Leave at least 10 cm (4 in.) of grassy residue to aid in regrowth. Fall grazing should be light as food reserves are accumulated for winter. Once the plant is dormant, timothy stands can be grazed in late fall and winter, but it does not hold its feed quality.

Forage yield:

Three year average dry matter yield at Prince George, B.C., was 4,606 kg/ha (4,112 lb/acre).

Palatability/Nutritional Value:

If used early in the season before flowering, timothy has good quality, 11% crude protein, and 61% digestibility. At later growth stages, quality and nutritional value decline rapidly.

Longevity (rating):



4 to 10 years.

Persistence (rating):



Can persist under careful management. Some stands managed for seed production in the Peace Region have been established for 18 years or more.

Invasiveness (rating):



Timothy can co-exist with native species where it is well adapted, but it generally is not considered invasive.

Erosion control (rating):


Erosion control:

Provides moderate erosion control in wetland upland areas when seeded with other species.

Drought tolerance (rating):


Drought tolerance:

Generally poor drought tolerance. Although some varieties have some drought hardiness, most timothy cannot tolerate short periods of moisture stress.

Winter hardiness (rating):


Winter hardiness:

Winter hardiness is increased with adequate snow cover.

Soil texture preference (rating):


Soil texture preference:

Timothy is well adapted for all soil textures, especially in Gray or Black soils.

Flooding tolerance (rating):


Flooding tolerance:

Timothy grows well on moister soils and can withstand 1 to 2 weeks of spring flooding. There are differing views in the literature on its tolerance to flooding later in the growing season.

Salinity tolerance (rating):


Acidity tolerance (rating):


Acidity tolerance:

Tolerates soil pH as low as 4.5.

Fire tolerance (rating):


Pests and/or disease threats:

Disease threats include purple eyespot and leaf streak. New stands are susceptible to grasshopper, wireworm, or glassy cutworm infestations. European skippers feed on timothy leaves and also perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, and orchardgrass. Silvertop is a threat for seed producers of timothy, fescues, bluegrasses, wheatgrasses, and bromegrasses.

Ease of establishment (rating):


Ease of establishment:

Relatively easy to establish, because the seeds germinate quickly. Timothy must be seeded shallow to get good establishment.

Suggested mixtures:

Mix with legumes such as alfalfa, alsike clover, or birdsfoot trefoil.