Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains
63. Poaceae, the Grass Family
23. Poa L. -- Bluegrass
3. Poa palustris L. -- Fowl bluegrass
Loosely tufted perennial 4-11 dm tall; culms terete, usually curved and
decumbent at the base, producing roots from lower nodes and thus stolonous (simulating
a short-rhizomatous base), usually purplish toward the base. Leaf blades
ascending to spreading, rather lax, flat, 0.5-5 mm wide, scabrous; sheaths
glabrous, rounded to slightly keeled, closed near the base; ligules mostly
1.6-5 mm long, rounded or lacerate. Panicle diffuse and loosely spreading
(contracted when young and emerging from the sheath), 8-30 cm long. Spikelets
2- to 4-flowered, 2-5 mm long, 1.5-2 mm wide; glumes subequal, often
purplish, lanceolate, acute, scabrous on the keel, the first glume 1.5-3 mm
long, 1- to 3-nerved, the second glume 2-3.1 mm long, 3-nerved; lemmas
2-3 mm long, subacute, often purplish on the sides, bronzed at the tip, pubescent
on the marginal nerves and keel toward the base, also bearing a tuft of cobwebby
hairs at the base, this sometimes scant, the intermediate nerves very faint
to obsolete so that the lemma appears 3-nerved; anthers 0.8-1.2 mm long.
Grain brown, fusiform to narrowly ellipsoid, ca. 1 mm long. Jun--early
Sep. Wet meadows, marshes, shores, stream banks, ditches and low prairie, also
moist woods and hillsides; common in the n part, less so s; (Newf. and Que.
to AK, s to VA, MO, NE, NM and CA; also Eurasia).
Inland bluegrass, Poa interior Rydb., is sometimes encountered on
stream banks and in other moist to fairly dry habitats. It is similar to P.
palustris except for its smaller stature and densely tufted nature. It
can be distinguished from P. palustris by its smaller panicles, 5-15
cm long, and the shorter ligules, mostly less than 1.6 mm long.
Poa palustris (from Hitchcock 1950).
Previous Section -- Poa compressa L. -- Canada
Return to Family -- Poaceae - The Grass
Next Section -- Poa pratensis L. -- Kentucky