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
Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)
-seedhead has an open shape like a pyramid
- 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
-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
-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, plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_popr.pdf.
Eric T. Doucette, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biology, MA College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA (updated Feb 2018)