E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Phleum alpinum L.
alpine timothy
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4324)

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Distribution of Phleum alpinum
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Species Information

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Perennial, strongly tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems often decumbent, and rooting at the nodes, not bulbous at the base, 15-50 cm tall/long.
Sheaths smooth; blades flat, 4-7 mm wide, the margins rough; ligules blunt, nearly entire, 1-3 (4) mm long; ear-shaped lobes at the leaf-bases lacking or small and blunt to rounded, more obvious on the upper leaves.
Inflorescence a nearly globe-shaped to short-cylindrical panicle, 1-4.5 cm long, often over 1 cm wide when pressed; glumes hairy on the sides, fringed with long, bristlelike hairs on the keels, 3.5-4.5 mm long, abruptly narrowed to the stout awns, the awns 1.5-2.5 (3) mm long; lemmas short-hairy, toothed by the 5 nerves, 2-2.5 mm long; paleas nearly equal to the lemmas; anthers 1-1.4 (1.5) mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic meadows and streambanks from the montane to alpine zones; common throughout BC except rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NH, ME, SD, NM, AZ and CA; Greenland, Iceland, Eurasia, S America.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Phleum alpinum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 7 1879 2563
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 220
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 164 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(76), BAFA(88), BWBS(3), CMA(4), CWH(5), ESSF(649), IMA(49), MH(19), MS(32), SBPS(3), SBS(5), SWB(23)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

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

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References