Fowl Bluegrass

Jamie Fenneman
Keith F. Best
Scientific name: 

Poa palustris L.

Native Grass
Annual precip. min (mm): 
Annual precip. max (mm): 
Seed size: 
Seeds per kg: 
Typical seeding objectives: 
PR Suitability note: 
Fowl bluegrass is found in native plant communities in the Peace Region.
Key considerations: 
Fowl bluegrass is used as minor component in site rehabilitation mixes where there is a native plant community objective. It requires moist conditions and is not drought tolerant, and so may be difficult to establish on well drained and exposed sites.
General Description: 

Fowl bluegrass is a loosely tufted, low growing, native, cool season, perennial bunchgrass. It is commonly a minor component in native grass seed mixes. It has fibrous roots and a tufted bunchgrass growth habit, but can form a weak sod. It grows 40 to 122 cm (16 to 48 in.) tall. Stems are erect, purplish, and curved at the base. The leaves are greenish, flat or folded, and 1.5 to 3 mm wide with boat or keel-shaped tips. The tiny flowers of fowl bluegrass are produced in mid-spring and are yellow. Seed heads are contained in an open panicle about 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in.) long with fine spreading branches. Lower branches have been described as cobwebby at the base. Seeds are small and brown. Fowl bluegrass reproduces from seed and tillers.

Native to British Columbia.
Occurs commonly throughout northern United States, Alaska, and throughout all Canadian provinces and territories.
Habitat and climate: 
Fowl bluegrass occurs commonly in wetter areas such as ditches, wetlands, moist forests, and clearings at low to medium elevations.
Used as a minor component in native grass reclamation mixes, and is considered an early- to mid-successional species. It has forage value and is used in pastures by both wildlife and livestock, where moisture is sufficient. The Chipewyan used fowl bluegrass to make vaccines or allergens to treat hay fever and to make hair rinses to revitalize hair.
Optimal time of grazing use: 
Early in the spring.
Recovery after use (rating): 
Recovery after use: 
Slow recovery after clipping or grazing. This species can be either an increaser or a decreaser after grazing, depending on site conditions.
Forage yield (rating): 
Palatability/Nutritional Value: 
Low protein and low palatability for both browsing and grazing animals.
Longevity (rating): 
Invasiveness (rating): 
Several of the native bluegrass species can be difficult for pedigreed seed growers to control in in other forage seed crops. Bluegrass seed is also difficult to separate from other grass seed crops.
Competitiveness (rating): 
Erosion control (rating): 
Drought tolerance (rating): 
Winter hardiness (rating): 
Winter hardiness: 
Can tolerate temperatures as low as -38°C.
Soil texture preference (rating): 
Soil texture preference: 
Adapted to medium-textured or loam soils to fine-textured or clayey soils.
Flooding tolerance (rating): 
Flooding tolerance: 
Although fowl bluegrass has a low tolerance to flooding, it is sometimes considered a wetland species indicator.
Salinity tolerance (rating): 
Acidity tolerance (rating): 
Acidity tolerance : 
Can tolerate high acidity levels of pH 4.9. Can tolerate some alkalinity up to pH 7.5.
Shade tolerance: 
Moderate shade tolerance.
Fire tolerance (rating): 
Ease of establishment (rating): 
Ease of establishment: 
Fowl bluegrass has moderate seedling vigour.
Application requirements: 
Seeds per gram should be verified when calculating seeding rate, as the seed weights reported in literature varied from 1.900 to 6.957 million seeds per kilogram.
Management considerations: 
Several species of native bluegrasses such as fowl bluegrass can cause problems for pedigreed seed growers as these species are difficult to clean out of other grass seed crops.