En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Grafting to a cherry laurel for edible fruit in Austin
July 01, 2010 - I was the one who asked earlier about grafting to a Cherry Laurel. I will happily graft a local plum on it, say a Mexican Plum or American Plum or one of the naturalized peaches (a friend has an India...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant in Florida with red fruit like a small tomato
September 03, 2012 - It looks like a small tomato but it isn't. It has a bunch of flakey seeds on the inside, which are a light brown in color. The outside is red, and I think it starts out growing green and also white....
view the full question and answer

Identity of wild plum in Childress County, Texas
March 16, 2015 - I have a Wild Plum follow up question. My wife grew up around the Childress TX area. She remembers going around the creeks and gathering Wild Plums for her mother as a child. Would you have any ide...
view the full question and answer

Are berries of coral honeysuckle edible from Lufkin TX
May 21, 2013 - Are the berries of coral honeysuckle edible?
view the full question and answer

Bitterness in cucumbers
June 24, 2006 - Bitter Cukes: We have a question about Burpless Burpee cucumbers. We've planted them with success several years in a row in our Austin backyard. This year, although the cucumbers look fine, they a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center