Phleum alpinum L.

mountain Timothy

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Mountain Timothy is a rare plant of alpine lawns, stream shores and headwall bases, and also of northern ice-scoured river shores on high-pH bedrock in Maine and New Hampshire. Its New England occurrences are at the southern limit of its high altitude and circumboreal range.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, cliffs, balds, or ledges, shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
Leaf blade width
4–7 mm
Inflorescence branches
there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
Spikelet length
2.5–4.5 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has an awn
One or more florets
there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
0 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Leaf ligule length
1–4 mm
Anther length
1–2 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    1–2 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has an awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret number
    1
    Floret types within spikelet
    all the florets within a spikelet are similar
    Glume awn length
    0.8–3.2 mm
    Glume keel
    the glume keels are rough or hairy
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is V-shaped in cross-section
    Glume veins
    3
    Glumes per spikelet
    2
    Inflorescence arrangement
    the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branches
    there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
    Inflorescence crowding
    the panicle is somewhat to very congested (crowded), and the branches may not be clearly seen without close inspection
    Inflorescence length
    10–60 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    1.5–3
    Inflorescence type (general)
    • the inflorescence is a spike, or is spike-like, lacking obvious branches
    • the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is branched, and the branches do NOT both grow from the same side of the plant AND look like spikes
    Inflorescence width
    5–12 mm
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    NA
    Lemma awn coiled
    NA
    Lemma awn length
    0 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has no awn
    Lemma awn orientation
    NA
    Lemma base hair length
    0 mm
    Lemma base hairs
    the lemma is hairless or feels just a tiny bit rough at the base
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma hairs
    the lemma is hairless between the veins
    Lemma keel hairs
    NA
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    Lemma tip shape
    the lemma tip tapers to a narrow point (it may or may not also have an awn or teeth at the tip)
    Lemma vein number
    • 5
    • 7 or more
    Lower glume length
    2.5–4.5 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    the lower glume is nearly as long, or as long as, the upper glume
    One or more florets
    there is one floret per spikelet
    Palea length
    1.7–2.5 mm
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Spikelet disintegration
    • the spikelet breaks off above the glumes, so that after the florets fall off, the glumes remain
    • the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    2.5–4.5 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    Up to 0
    Spikelet pedicel
    the spikelets have pedicels
    Spikelet shape
    the spikelets are obtriangular (triangular, with the widest end away from the point of attachment) in profile
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Tip of glume
    the tip of the glume is not divided (though it may have an awn on it)
    Upper glume length
    2.5–4.5 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is more than one half as long as the lowest lemma
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest above the middle
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizomes
    • no
    • yes
    Roots
    • the plant has rhizomes (horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    the leaves do not have auricles
    Leaf basal lobe hairy
    NA
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section, or slightly folded or rolled inwards
    Leaf blade length
    Up to 17 cm
    Leaf blade width
    4–7 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    1–4 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane
    Leaf margin glands
    there are no glands along the edges of the leaf blade
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath color and persistence
    the leaf sheathes are off-white to light-brown and mostly persist in older leaves
    Leaf sheath hair type
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Hairs at nodes
    the stem nodes are hairless or they have very sparse hairs
    Plant height
    15–50 cm
    Stem orientation
    • the stems are upright
    • the stems trail at the base, but turn upwards at the tips
    Stem spacing
    • the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts
    • the stems grow singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
present
Massachusetts
absent
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
rare (S-rank: S2), threatened (code: T)

ssp. alpinum

New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Phleum pratense

Synonyms

  • Phleum alpinum L. var. commutatum (Gaudin) Griseb.
  • Phleum commutatum Gaudin
  • Phleum commutatum Gaudin var. americanum (Fourn.) Hultén

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Phleum

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Phleum alpinum L. NC

mountain Timothy. Phleum alpinum L. var. commutatum (Gaudin) Griseb.; P. commutatum Gaudin; P. commutatum Gaudin var. americanum (Fourn.) Hultén • ME, NH. Open, mesic 
sites in alpine areas, such as snowbank lawns, stream shores, and bases of headwalls, also northern, ice-scoured river shores in high-pH bedrock and/or till regions.