Kentucky bluegrass

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

Scientific name: Poa pratensis L.

Common name(s): Kentucky bluegrass, smooth meadow grass, common meadow grass

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

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


– perennial

-sod-forming grass

-seedhead has an open shape like a pyramid

-Leaves are

  • 6 to 12 inches long
  • boat-shaped at the tips
  • smooth and soft
  • 1/8 to 1/4 inches wide

-becomes dormant in the hottest part of the summer

-spreads by rhizomes and seeds

– very similar to P. compressa (Canada bluegrass), but stem is not flattened below inflorescence.  See Go Botany webpage for P. compressa

– four subspecies in New England.  Native ssp. alpigena is around Mt. Washington alpine habitats only, and native ssp. agassizensis is in Aroostook Cty., ME; both are of regional conservation concern. Both ssp. angustifolia and ssp. pratensis are non-native and widespread.  See Flora Novae Angliae information at bottom of Go Botany webpage


-well drained fertile soils

-ideal pH of 6.0 to 7.5

-can survive severe droughts

-full-part sun


-palatable to horses, sheep, cattle

-seeds are eaten by small mammals and birds

-more productive on very grazed areas

-used as erosion control

-a good turf grass

Natural History:

-native to Europe



Haines, A., Farnsworth, E., Morrison, G., & New England Wild Flower Society. (2011). New England Wildflower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae: A manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England. Framingham, MA: New England Wild Flower Society. p. 276.

Bush, Tony. “KENTUCKY BLUEGRASSPoa Pratensis L.” Plan Fact Sheet, USDA NRCS Rose Lake Plant Materials Center, East Lansing, Michigan , Feb. 2002,


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