En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - June 20, 2008

From: Paris, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Tea made from timothy grass
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My mom and I have been drinking tea made from Timothy grass seed for many years, 40 at least. It is delicious, and refreshing. My question is can you see any harm in drinking tea made from the seeds of untreated timothy seeds? Is the chemical composition once heated unsafe? We have never suffered any ill affects in all these years and was just curious about it. Thank You, Ruthie Lee

ANSWER:

Phleum pratense (timothy grass), a non-native introduced grass from Europe, is one of the worst of the allergenic grass pollens, second only to Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass), another non-native invasive; but other than causing hayfever and being considered as one of the Invasive and Noxious Weeds of the Northeast I couldn't really find anything else bad or toxic about it. According to the Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide : "Toxicity: None known. Pollen can cause dermatitis and hayfever." None of our other favorite poisonous plants databases (e.g., Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database, Texas Toxic Plants, Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System) lists it.

Treatment for allergies is often based on applying controlled doses of the allergen to accustom the immune system to it and prohibit the allergic reaction. Both injection immunotherapy (in which extracts of the timothy grass allergens are injected subcutaneously) and sublinqual immunotherapy (in which a pill containing extracts of the timothy grass allergens are allowed to dissolve under the tongue) have been used to treat hayfever caused by timothy grass.

You and your mother are living proof that drinking timothy grass tea for 40 years hasn't caused any obvious harm and, who knows, you may have been desensitizing yourselves to timothy grass hayfever by doing so.
 

More Edible Plants Questions

Plants for floodplain in Fairfield, New Jersey
March 21, 2010 - I have an easy question for you... I hope... We just moved into the floodplains of NJ in Fairfield and are interested in some plants. We would like to know what plants are best suited to grow in flood...
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Native wild plum trees for Johnson County, Texas
December 24, 2012 - What native wild plums will grow in southern Johnson County? And where can I find the trees locally? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Dead or Dormant Chile Pequins in Corpus Christi
November 12, 2010 - We have 4 chile pequin and 5 chiltepin plants growing our yard. All were thriving beautifully until we took a 12-day vacation in late July. There was little rain during that time but overall this y...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center