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Alopecurus pratensis, known as the Meadow Foxtail or the Field Meadow Foxtail, is a perennial grass, belonging to the grass family (Poaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia.

This common plant is found on grasslands, especially on neutral soils. It is found on moist, fertile soils, but avoids waterlogged, light or dry soils. The species forms dense swards leading to low botanical diversity.

This species is widely cultivated for pasture and hay, and has become naturalised in many areas outside of its native range, including Australia and North America.

Identification[]

It flowers from April until June - one of the earliest grasses to do so. Any survey work carried out in mid-Summer may miss the grass as a result of this.

It can grow to a height of about 110 cm. The stem is erect or geniculate at the base, the sheathes being smooth and cylindrical. The leaves are about 5 mm wide and hairless. Meadow Foxtail has a cylindrical inflorescence, with glumes about 5–10 mm wide and spikelets about 4–6 mm long.

The ligule is 1 to 2.5 mm long, with a slightly tattered top.

Ecology[]

The caterpillars of some Lepidoptera use it as a foodplant, e.g. the Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola). Additionally, male mosquitos can often be found on this flower drinking the nectar.

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