FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Phleum alpinum, Alpine Cat's-tail

Phleum alpinum; The Alpine Cat's-tail is a close relative of the Timothy. It has similar-shaped spike-like panicles. They are though considerably shorter than those of Timothy. Quite characteristic for the Alpine Cat's-tail are the infllated sheath of the leaves. This is most prominent on the highest leaf and lesser on lower leaves. The spikelets are also smaller but the pointed tips are just as long (thus relatively longer). I once encountered a plant on Iceland which bears all the characteristics of a hybrid with Timothy (rather long panicles and only slightly inflated sheaths only in the uppermost leaf). I am not sure though if these species can hybridize as their ploidy-levels differ.

The Alpine Cat's-tail is common on Iceland but prefers higher elevations. It grows on rather dry fertile soils.

Alpine Cat's-tail is a member of the grass family (Poaceae, also known as Gramineae). The Icelandic name of the Alpine Cat's-tail is Fjallafoxgras.

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A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk - unless stated otherwise

A hybrid of timothee and Alpine's Cat's-tail
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A hybrid of timothee and Alpine's Cat's-tail

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