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 centimetres (43 in). The stem is erect and hard at the shaft,the sheathes being smooth and cylindrical. The leaves are about 5 millimetres (0.20 in) wide and hairless. Meadow foxtail has a cylindrical inflorescence with glumes about 5–10 millimetres (0.20–0.39 in) wide and spikelets about 4–6 millimetres (0.16–0.24 in) long.
The ligule is 1–2.5 millimetres (0.039–0.098 in) long, with a slightly tattered top.