Canada bluegrass

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469.  Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Poa compressa L.

Common name(s): Canada bluegrass, flattened meadowgrass, flat-stem bluegrass, flat-stemmed bluegrass

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial

-Grass Family (Poaceae)

– Culms are 15-20 cm tall

-Sheaths are open,smooth, and flattened

-Leaves are 1-4 mm  wide and 2-10 cm long

-inflorescence is a narrow panicle 3-8 cm long

– very similar to P. pratensis (KY bluegrass), but stem is flattened below inflorescence. See Go Botany webpage for P. pratensis


-acidic low fertility soils

-disturbed sites



-palatable to livestock

-does not produce lots of forage

-small mammals and birds eat the leaves and seeds

-Grasshoppers, plant bugs, stink bugs, skipper caterpillars, moth caterpillars, beetles, and bluegrass bill bugs feed on Canada bluegrass

-documented disease found in Canada bluegrass is oat necrotic mottle virus and a mild or symptom less disease in Canada bluegrass which might be transmitted by a mite

Natural History:

-native to Europe

-introduced in Canada in the 1700s



St. John, L., D. Tilley, and S. Winslow. 2012. Plant guide for Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa) USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plant Materials Center, Aberdeen, Idaho 83210.

Eric T. Doucette, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biology, MA College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA (updated Feb 2018)