The spiked-head grass dried for fodder that is most widely cultivated in North America was, at one time, called meadow cat’s-tail grass. Grown in Europe with the technical name Phleum pratense, the species was brought to America by New England settlers.
A farmer named John Herd reportedly discovered this grass growing wild on his New Hampshire farm in 1700. He might have called the grass by his name, but when another farmer, Timothy Hanson, moved from New York to a Southern state, he took bags of grass seed with him and introduced the grass under his first name. And Timothy has ever since been its name.
The Southerners were impressed by Timothy grass and bought the
seeds, making the grass widespread throughout the South. Settlers leaving for Western land bought the seed, too, giving the grass a national presence.