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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This grass has been introduced everywhere and it has become ubiquitous. It is undoubtedly the most common bluegrass in Illinois. Distinguishing different bluegrass species (Poa spp.) can be difficult; this task often requires a 10x hand lens or a 30x field microscope while examining the lemmas of the spikelets. Because many different cultivars have been developed, Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is both genetically and morphologically diverse. Unlike some species in this genus, Kentucky Bluegrass forms a turf from long rhizomes. Its lemmas have 5 visible veins; the midvein and marginal veins are finely hairy on the lower half of each lemma, while the intermediate veins are hairless. Other bluegrass species are finely hairy along the intermediate veins as well, or they may lack fine hairs along the veins of their lemmas altogether. As a group, bluegrass species differ from many other grasses by the small tufts of webby hair that are usually found at the bottom of their lemmas.
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© John Hilty

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Description

This perennial grass produces flowering culms that are 1–2½' tall; basal leaves are also produced from infertile shoots. The slender culms are light green, terete to slightly flattened, glabrous, unbranched, and more or less erect; there are 2-5 alternate leaves per culm. The leaf blades are 2-6 mm. across and 2-5" long; they are medium green, hairless (or nearly so), and ascending to widely spreading. The tips of the leaves are hull-shaped. The basal leaves are similar to the alternate leaves, except they are usually more long and floppy. The basal leaves are partially evergreen, while the flowering culms with alternate leaves die down after the grains ripen. The sheaths are medium green, longitudinally veined, and hairless (or nearly so); they are open from their apices to at least the middle of their internodes. Each fertile culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets about 2-6" long. In outline, the open panicle is oblongoid-pyramidal or narrowly pyramidal. The rachis (central stalk) of the panicle, its lateral branches, and pedicels are very slender and glabrous (or nearly so). Lateral branches of varying length occur in whorls of 2-5 along the rachis; they are ascending to widely spreading. The lateral branches divide and subdivide into pediceled spikelets. Individual spikelets are 4-6 mm. long, while their pedicels are up to 2 mm. long. The spikelets are light green to purplish green. Each spikelet consists of a pair of glumes at the bottom and 2-5 lemmas above; the glumes and lemmas are arranged into 2 overlapping ranks. The glumes are 2.5–3.5 mm. long, lanceolate, membranous along their margins, and convex to slightly keeled along their outer sides; each glume has 1-3 fine veins. The lemmas are 3-4 mm. long, lanceolate, membranous along their margins, and convex to slightly keeled along their outer sides; each lemma has 5 fine veins. The midvein and marginal veins are finely hairy along the lower half of each lemma, while the intermediate veins are hairless. At the base of each lemma, there is a small tuft of fine webby hairs. The lemmas and their membranous paleas enclose perfect florets. Each floret has 3 stamens and a pair of feathery stigmata. The blooming period usually occurs from late spring to early summer, lasting about 2 weeks. The florets are cross-pollinated by the wind. Afterwards, the spikelets become light tan or light brown at maturity. Each fertile lemma produces a single grain (some upper lemmas within each spikelet may be sterile). The grains are about 2 mm. long, light brown, narrowly ellipsoid in shape, and grooved along one side. The root system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous. This grass often forms clonal colonies of plants from the rhizomes. There is some variability across different strains of this grass. Cultivation
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© John Hilty

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Description

General: Grass Family (Poaceae). Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season perennial sod-forming grass. The roots are shallow, often within the upper 8 cm of the soil surface. Stems are 30 to 90 cm tall. Leaves are attached to the base of the stem, folded and sometimes hairy at the point of attachment, have flat blades, are 2 to 5 mm wide and 10 to 40 cm long. The inflorescence is an open panicle consisting of two to six flowers. The lemmas have a tuft of cobwebby hairs. Flowering starts in May and fruit is mature by mid-June.

Kentucky bluegrass is distinguished from Canada bluegrass (Poa compressus) by its darker green foliage, longer leaves, and pubescence at the bases of the leaves.

Distribution: Kentucky bluegrass is native to portions of North America, including areas within the United States. Exact delineation of native status has not been determined, but data seems to indicate that it is native in parts of the southeast, northeast, and upper Midwest regions and introduced or naturalized elsewhere. It occurs throughout the United States although it is most prevalent in the northern half. It is not common in the Gulf States or in the desert regions of the southwest. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site (http://plants.usda.gov).

Habitat: Kentucky bluegrass is promoted on sites that have cool and humid climates. It is found in uplands and lowlands of the tallgrass prairie and in the lowlands of mixed-grass prairies where adequate precipitation falls. In the west, it is found on northern exposures at mid to high elevations. In the southwest and California, it is found in cool mountainous regions.

It frequently occurs as an understory dominant in aspen habitats throughout the Intermountain Region, ponderosa pine, sagebrush/bunchgrass, and bunchgrass habitats throughout the U.S., and riparian habitats in the Mountain West. It is also a common dominant of Midwestern prairies.

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Alternative names

June grass, Paneion pratense, Poa anceps, Poa angustifolia var. pratensis, Poa angustifolia var. angustiglumis, Poa pratensis var. macounii, Poa pratensis var. pinegensis, Poa pratensis var. stricta, Poa pratensis var. transnominata, Poa pratensis var. urjandhaica, Poa pubescens, Poa urjanchaica, Poa viridis, smooth meadow grass, spear grass.

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Kentucky Bluegrass occurs in every county of Illinois and it is quite common (see Distribution Map). It was introduced from Europe as a lawn grass and pasture grass. Habitats include lawns, parks, pastures, roadsides, degraded prairies, weedy meadows, vacant lots, waste areas, open woodlands, savannas, limestone glades, and gravelly seeps. This grass is usually found in areas with a history of human-related disturbance. While it is not considered a major invasive species (at least in Illinois), it is often found in some native habitats as described above. Its capacity to recover from wildfires is poor. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA
     HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD
     MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ
     NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC
     SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY
     AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ
     SK  YT  MEXICO

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Kentucky bluegrass is widely distributed across North America growing in
every state and Canadian province.  It is adapted for growth in cool,
humid climates, and is most prevalent in the northern half of the United
States and the southern half of Canada.  It is not common in the Gulf
States nor in desert regions of the Southwest [125].
  • 125.  Wheeler, W. A.; Hill, D. D. 1957. Grassland seeds. Princeton, NJ: D. Van        Nostrand Company, Inc. 628 p.  [18902]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Anhui, Gansu, Guizhou, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Xizang, Yunnan [Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan; Africa, SW Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Pacific Islands, South America].
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Adaptation

Kentucky bluegrass is found most abundantly on sites that are cool and humid. It has become naturalized across North America and often occurs as a dominant species in the herbaceous layer.

Kentucky bluegrass grows best on well-drained loams or clay loams rich in humus and on soils with limestone parent material. It needs large amounts of

nitrogen during active growth stages. The optimal soil pH is between 5.8 and 8.2.

In the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, Kentucky bluegrass dominance is an indicator of dry to moist meadow conditions and of soils that are dark brown to black and clayey.

Kentucky bluegrass plants that have shorter leaves are more likely to produce tillers. Plants that occur in full sun have shorter leaves while those in shade have leaves longer than the stems. Therefore plants that are in full sun will produce more tillers and spread more quickly than those in the shade.

Kentucky bluegrass is intolerant of drought, excessive flooding, high water tables, and poorly drained soils.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Kentucky bluegrass is an introduced, perennial, short to medium-tall,
cool-season, sod-forming grass.  The leaves are primarily basally
attached and are usually 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm) long [100].  Stems
are numerous in a tuft and grow 12 to 36 inches (30-91 cm) high.  The
inflorescence is an open panicle.  Kentucky bluegrass is shallow rooted
and is intolerant of drought.  Most roots and rhizomes are found within
3 inches (7.5 cm) of the soil surface [40].
  • 40.  Gist, George R.; Smith, R. M. 1948. Root development of several common        forage grasses to a depth of eighteen inches. Journal of the American        Society of Agronomy. 40: 1036-1042.  [8138]
  • 100.  Smoliak, S.; Penney, D.; Harper, A. M.; Horricks, J. S. 1981. Alberta        forage manual. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Agriculture, Print Media Branch. 87        p.  [19538]

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Physical Description

Perennials, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems geniculate, decumbent, or lax, sometimes rooting at nodes, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly basal, below middle of stem, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly closed, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades very narrow or filiform, less than 2 mm wide, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blade margins folded, involute, or conduplicate, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Ligule present, Ligule an unfringed eciliate membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence a contracted panicle, narrowly paniculate, branches appressed or ascending, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence lax, widely spreading, branches drooping, pendulous, Inflorescence with 2-10 branches, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Flowers bisexual, Plants dioecious, S pikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets unisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subequal, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes keeled or winged, Glumes 3 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilaginous, or membranous, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma awnless, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea about equal to lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear, < br> Poa pratensis Perennials, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Rhizomes present, Rhizome elongate, creeping, stems distant, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stems compressed, flattened, or sulcate, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly basal, below middle of stem, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath or blade keeled, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Leaf blades more or less hairy, Leaf blades scabrous, roughened, or wrinkled, Ligule present, Ligule an unfringed eciliate membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly pan iculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence a contracted panicle, narrowly paniculate, branches appressed or ascending, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence with 2-10 branches, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Lower panicle branches whorled, Flowers bisexual, Flowers replaced by bulbils, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 2 florets, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subequal, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes keeled or winged, Glumes 3 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilagino us, or membranous, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma body or surface hairy, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma awnless, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Callus or base of lemma evidently hairy, Callus hairs shorter than lemma, Lemma with long cobwebby white hairs, Palea present, well developed, Palea about equal to lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Description

Loosely to densely tufted green or greyish-green rhizomatous perennial; culms (15-) 20-70(-90)cm high, erect or geniculately ascending. Leaf-blades flat, folded or bristle-like, 3-40cm long, 0.8-4(-6) mm wide, abruptly contracted to a blunt hooded tip, scabrid on the margins; ligule blunt, 1(-3)mm long. Panicle lanceolate, ovate, pyramidal or oblong, 6-15(-20)cm long, erect or nodding, loose and open to contracted and rather dense; branches 3-5 at the lower nodes, ascending or spreading, flexuous, scaberulous. Spikelets 2-5-flowered, ovate or oblong, 2.5-6mm long ; glumes unequal, the lower ovate, 1.5-3.5mm long, 1-nerved, the upper ovate or elliptic, 2-4mm long, 3-nerved; lemmas oblong to oblong-ovate in side-view, 2-4mm long, blunt or subacute, ciliate on the keel and marginal nerves, with very copious wool at the base; palea as long as the lemma, scabrid along the keels; anthers 1.5-2mm long.
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Description

Perennials, loosely tufted or with isolated shoots, strongly rhizomatous, often forming turf; shoots extra- and often intravaginal. Plants green to pale or yellowish green, or purplish to strongly grayish glaucous. Culms 10–120 cm, 1–2.5 mm in diam., erect or decumbent, 1 to several per tuft, smooth, nodes (1–)2–4, 1 or 2 exserted. Leaf sheaths moderately compressed and keeled, uppermost closed for (1/4–)1/3–2/5 of length, smooth or infrequently retrorsely scabrid or pilulose; blades flat or folded, papery to thickly papery, 1–5 mm wide, surfaces smooth or sparsely scabrid, margins scabrid, adaxially glabrous or frequently sparsely hispidulous to strigulose, of tillers, flat or folded with margins inrolled, intravaginal ones when present often folded, 0.5–2 mm wide, extravaginal ones flat or folded (1–)1.5–5 mm wide; ligule whitish, 0.5–4(–5) mm, abaxially nearly smooth to densely scabrid, apex truncate to rounded, often finely scabrid to ciliolate or pilulose. Panicle loosely contracted to open, oblong to broadly pyramidal, erect or slightly lax, (2–)5–20(–25) cm, longest internodes 1–4.2 cm; branches steeply ascending to widely spreading, (2–)3–5(–9) per node, rounded or distally angled, nearly smooth to distally scabrid with hooks on and between angles, longest branch 1.5–5(–10) cm with (3–)7–18 spikelets in distal 1/3–2/3, sometimes clustered distally. Spikelets ovate, green or grayish, frequently purple tinged, 3–7(–9) mm, florets 2–5(–9); vivipary absent in China; rachilla internodes 0.5–1(–1.2) mm, smooth, glabrous (rarely sparsely pilulose); glumes subequal, strongly keeled, keels and sometimes lateral veins dorsally scabrid, first glume 1.5–3(–4) mm. 1–3-veined, upper glume 2–4 mm, 3(or 5)-veined; lemmas ovate to lanceolate (or narrowly lanceolate), 2.5–4(–5) mm, apex slightly obtuse to acuminate, keel villous for 3/4 of length, marginal veins to 1/2 length, intermediate veins prominent, glabrous (rarely sparsely pilulose), glabrous between veins, minutely bumpy, sparsely scabrid distally; callus webbed, hairs as long as lemma, frequently with less well-developed tufts from below marginal veins; palea usually narrow, glabrous or with sparse hooks, usually minutely bumpy, glabrous between keels, keels scabrid, infrequently medially pilulose in subsp. pruinosa. Anthers (1.2–)1.4–2.5(–2.8) mm, infrequently poorly formed, but not vestigial. Fl. and fr. Jun–Sep. 2n = 28–144.
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Diagnostic Description

The genus Poa is distinguished by its flat leaf blades, 2-6 flowered panicles, 1-3 nerved glumes and tuft of cobwebby hairs at the base of the 5-nerved lemmas (Gleason 1957, Mohlenbrock 1972, Hitchcock 1950).

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Synonym

Poa florida N. R. Cui.
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Type Information

Conserved type for Poa pratensis L.
Catalog Number: US 3456252
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): L. Tzvelev
Year Collected: 1997
Locality: "Rossia", Prov. Sanct-Petersburg, 5 km australi-occidentem versus a st. viae ferr. Mga, pratulum ad ripam dextram fl. Mga., Leningrad [St. Petersburg], Russian Federation, Europe
  • Conserved type: Linnaeus, C. 1753. Sp. Pl. 67.
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Isotype fragment for Poa oligeria Steud.
Catalog Number: US 946978
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. Lechler
Locality: Patagonia, Sandy Point., Argentina, South America
  • Isotype fragment: Steudel, E. G. von. 1854. Syn. Pl. Glumac. 1: 426.
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Holotype for Poa peckii Chase
Catalog Number: US 1720372
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): M. Peck
Year Collected: 1937
Locality: Along Metolius River near Camp Sherman., Jefferson, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Chase, M. A. 1938. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 28: 54.
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Isotype for Poa oligeria Steud.
Catalog Number: US 81727
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. Lechler
Locality: Patagonia, Sandy Point., Argentina, South America
  • Isotype: Steudel, E. G. von. 1854. Syn. Pl. Glumac. 1: 426.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Kentucky Bluegrass occurs in every county of Illinois and it is quite common (see Distribution Map). It was introduced from Europe as a lawn grass and pasture grass. Habitats include lawns, parks, pastures, roadsides, degraded prairies, weedy meadows, vacant lots, waste areas, open woodlands, savannas, limestone glades, and gravelly seeps. This grass is usually found in areas with a history of human-related disturbance. While it is not considered a major invasive species (at least in Illinois), it is often found in some native habitats as described above. Its capacity to recover from wildfires is poor. Faunal Associations
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Comments: There is some disagreement whether Poa pratensis is native in the northern tier of states and Canada (Fernald 1950, Great Plains Flora Assoc 1986, Gleason and Cronquist 1953) or native in Eurasia and introduced throughout its North American range (Hitchcock 1950, Mohlenbrock 1972, USDA 1948). Kentucky bluegrass is planted in some areas for forage and is widely used for turf.

Kentucky bluegrass is favored by moist conditions, including reservoir shores (Hoffman et al. 1980). It can withstand flooding (Schalitz 1977) flooding with subsequent freezing, ice and snow (Beard 1964). The interaction of the effects of soil texture and climate on Poa pratensis is demonstrated by its high frequency on drier sites of Ontario old fields on shallow circumneutral soils overlying gravel (Maycock and Guzikowa 1983), low frequency on sandy soils in Wisconsin (Kline pers. comm.), and absence from sandy soils in Nebraska (Steuter pers. comm.).

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Habitat characteristics

Kentucky bluegrass is widely distributed across North America, growing
on a wide variety of sites in numerous vegetation types, but grows best
and is most abundant on moist sites where the climate is cool and humid.
In tallgrass prairie it may be abundant on uplands and lowlands because
of abundant annual precipitation, but in mixed-grass prairie it is
abundant only on lowland sites [49,105].  In the West, cool, moist
conditions optimal for growth typically occur on northern exposures, at
moderate to high elevations, and in riparian environments [49].  In the
Southwest and in California Kentucky bluegrass is often confined to cool
mountainous regions [113].  It grows best in full sunlight but will
tolerate light shading if moisture and nutrients are favorable [49,100].
Kentucky bluegrass grows in prairies and fields, mountain grasslands,
mountain brushlands, mountain meadows, riparian woodlands, and open
forests and woods.  It is common along roadsides.

Soils:  Kentucky bluegrass grows on a wide variety of soils, but thrives
on well-drained loams or clay loams rich in humus [113].  It also
thrives on soils derived from limestone [49,100,113].  It is somewhat
exacting in its chemical fertility requirements, needing large amounts of
nitrogen during active growth stages [100].  Optimal soil pH is between
5.8 and 8.2 [100]. 

Elevation:  Elevational ranges for selected western states are as
follows [27,101,124]:

       State                 Elevational Range

        CO              4,000 to 12,000 feet (1,220-3,659 m)
        MT              2,800 to 7,500 feet (854-2,287 m)
        NM              5,576 to 11,480 feet (1,700-3,500 m)
        UT              4,200 to 10,800 feet (1,280-3,290 m)
        WY              4,600 to 9,100 feet (1,400-2,775 m)

Associated species:  Kentucky bluegrass is ubiquitous.  Associated
species in specific habitats are presented below:

Mountain and riparian meadows: redtop (Agrostis alba), smallwing sedge
(Carex microptera), analogue sedge (C. simulata), timothy (Phleum
pratense), Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), meadow barley (Hordeum
brachyantherum), western aster (Aster occidentalis), common yarrow
(Achillea millefolium), strawberry (Frageria virginiana), largeleaf
avens (Geum macrophyllum), wild iris (Iris missouriensis), cinquefoil
(Potentila gracilis), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), velvet
lupine (Lupinus leucophyllus), and buttercup (Ranunculus spp.)
[47,61,68,128].

Mountain grasslands: Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), rough fescue
(Festuca scabrella), Idaho fescue (F. idahoensis), cheatgrass (Bromus
tectorum), mountain brome (B. marginatus), common dandelion, snowberry
(Symphoricarpos albus), and rose (Rosa acicularis) [25,89,95]. 
  • 25.  Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Technical Bulletin        62. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture,        Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. 131 p.  [733]
  • 27.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 47.  Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian        dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University        of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation        Experiment Station. 411 p.  [5660]
  • 49.  Hardy BBT Limited. 1989. Manual of plant species suitability for        reclamation in Alberta. 2d ed. Report No. RRTAC 89-4. Edmonton, AB:        Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council. 436 p.  [15460]
  • 61.  Kauffman, J. Boone; Krueger, W. C.; Vavra, M. 1985. Ecology and plant        communities of the riparian areas associated with Catherine Creek in        northeastern Oregon. Tech. Bull. 147. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State        University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 35 p.  [6174]
  • 68.  Manning, Mary E.; Padgett, Wayne G. 1989. Preliminary riparian community        type classification for Nevada. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 135 p. Preliminary        draft.  [11531]
  • 89.  Parker, Karl G. 1975. Some important Utah range plants. Extension        Service Bulletin EC-383. Logan, UT: Utah State University. 174 p.        [9878]
  • 95.  Schwecke, Deitrich A.; Hann, Wendell. 1989. Fire behavior and vegetation        response to spring and fall burning on the Helena National Forest. In:        Baumgartner, David M.; Breuer, David W.; Zamora, Benjamin A.; [and        others]
  • 100.  Smoliak, S.; Penney, D.; Harper, A. M.; Horricks, J. S. 1981. Alberta        forage manual. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Agriculture, Print Media Branch. 87        p.  [19538]
  • 101.  Soreng, Robert J. 1985. Poa L. in New Mexico, with a key to middle and        southern Rocky Mountain species (Poaceae). Great Basin Naturalist.        45(3): 395-422.  [2198]
  • 105.  Stubbendieck, J.; Nichols, James T.; Roberts, Kelly K. 1985. Nebraska        range and pasture grasses (including grass-like plants). E.C. 85-170.        Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, Department of Agriculture,        Cooperative Extension Service. 75 p.  [2269]
  • 113.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1937. Range plant        handbook. Washington, DC. 532 p.  [2387]
  • 124.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944]
  • 128.  Youngblood, Andrew P.; Padgett, Wayne G.; Winward, Alma H. 1985.        Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho - western        Wyoming. R4-Ecol-85-01. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 78 p.  [2686]

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Key Plant Community Associations

Kentucky bluegrass is an introduced plant and is therefore not used in
habitat typing.  It has, however, become naturalized across North
America and often occurs as a herbaceous layer dominant.  In the West,
Kentucky bluegrass frequently occurs as an understory dominant in aspen
(Populus tremuloides), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), sagebrush
(Artemisia spp.)/bunchgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata, Festuca altaica,
F. idahoensis), bunchgrass, and riparian habitats.  It is also a common
dominant of midwestern prairies.

Ponderosa pine and bunchgrass habitat types:  Grazing-induced seral
stages in which Kentucky bluegrass is the herbaceous layer dominant are
widespread and common within ponderosa pine/bunchgrass,
sagebrush/bunchgrass, and bunchgrass habitat types [25,57].

Riparian communities:  Kentucky bluegrass is a common understory
dominant of low- to middle-elevation riparian communities throughout the
Mountain West.  These sites are typically gently sloping stream terraces
with a widely spaced overstory of cottonwood (Populus angustifolia, P.
deltoides, P. trichocarpa), water birch (Betula occidentalis), conifers,
or willows (Salix geyeriana, S. lutea, S. exigua) [46,62,88,128].
Kentucky bluegrass also dominates low- and middle-elevation riparian
meadows on broad floodplains and elevated stream terraces [62,88].  In
the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington,
Kentucky bluegrass dominance is an indicator of dry to moist meadow
conditions and soils that are dark brown to black and clayey [45].

Aspen/Kentucky bluegrass communities:  Aspen/Kentucky bluegrass and
aspen/mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus)/Kentucky bluegrass
community types are relatively uncommon but widespread across the
Intermountain Region [80].  In central Colorado, and in the Black Hills
of South Dakota, aspen stands with an understory dominated by Kentucky
bluegrass are fairly common [90,96].  The understory of aspen/Kentucky
bluegrass communities is relatively depauperate [82].

The following publications describe Kentucky-bluegrass-dominated
grasslands, and forests and woodlands where it occurs as a understory
dominant:

Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in
  northwestern Montana [13].
Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central
  and eastern Montana [46]. 
Riparian dominance types of Montana [47].
Riparian zone associations: Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema
  National Forests [58].
Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho
  [88].
Preliminary riparian community type classification for Nevada [68].
Riparian community type classification for eastern Idaho and western
  Wyoming [128].
Ecology and plant communities of the riparian area associated with
  Catherine Creek in northeastern Oregon [61].
A meadow site classification for the Sierra Nevada, California [91]. 
Plant communities of the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon and
  southeastern Washington [45].
Plant associations of the central Oregon pumice zone [119]. 
Ecology and distribution of riparian vegetation in the Trout Creek
  Mountains of southeastern Oregon [32].
Plant associations of the Wallowa-Snake Province: Wallowa-Whitman
  National Forest [57].
Range plant communities of the Central Grasslands Research Station in
  south-central North Dakota [66].
Classification of native vegetation at the Woodworth Station, North
  Dakota [79].
Aspen community types of the Intermountain Region [80].
Aspen community types of Utah [82].
Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee National Forests in
  southeastern Idaho [81].
Aspen community types of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests in
  south-central Colorado [90].
Classification of quaking aspen stands in the Black Hills and Bear Lodge
  Mountains [96].
Classification of deer habitat in the ponderosa pine forests of the
  Black Hills, South Dakota [109].
  • 13.  Boggs, Keith; Hansen, Paul; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990.        Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in        northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of        Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana        Riparian Association. 217 p. Draft Version 1.  [8447]
  • 25.  Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Technical Bulletin        62. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture,        Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. 131 p.  [733]
  • 32.  Evenden, Angela G. 1989. Ecology and distribution of riparian vegetation        in the Trout Creek Mountains of southeastern Oregon. Corvallis, OR:        Oregon State University. 156 p. Dissertation.  [10231]
  • 45.  Hall, Frederick C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in        eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6-Area Guide 3-1. Portland,        OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest        Region. 82 p.  [1059]
  • 46.  Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990.        Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central        and eastern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of        Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana        Riparian Association. 279 p.  [12477]
  • 47.  Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian        dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University        of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation        Experiment Station. 411 p.  [5660]
  • 57.  Johnson, Charles G., Jr.; Simon, Steven A. 1987. Plant associations of        the Wallowa-Snake Province: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.        R6-ECOL-TP-255A-86. Baker, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 399        p.  [9600]
  • 58.  Judd, B. Ira. 1962. Principal forage plants of southwestern ranges. Stn.        Pap. No. 69. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 93 p.        [1302]
  • 61.  Kauffman, J. Boone; Krueger, W. C.; Vavra, M. 1985. Ecology and plant        communities of the riparian areas associated with Catherine Creek in        northeastern Oregon. Tech. Bull. 147. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State        University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 35 p.  [6174]
  • 62.  Kovalchik, Bernard L. 1987. Riparian zone associations: Deschutes,        Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests. R6 ECOL TP-279-87.        Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Northwest Region. 171 p.  [9632]
  • 66.  Lura, Charles L.; Barker, William T.; Nyren, Paul E. 1988. Range plant        communities of the Central Grasslands Research Station in south central        North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 20(4): 177-192.  [7224]
  • 68.  Manning, Mary E.; Padgett, Wayne G. 1989. Preliminary riparian community        type classification for Nevada. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 135 p. Preliminary        draft.  [11531]
  • 79.  Meyer, Marvis I. 1985. Classification of native vegetation at the        Woodworth Station, North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 17(3): 167-175.        [5432]
  • 80.  Mueggler, Walter F. 1988. Aspen community types of the Intermountain        Region. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-250. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 135 p.        [5902]
  • 81.  Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1982. Aspen community        types on the Caribou and Targhee National Forests in southeastern Idaho.        Res. Pap. INT-294. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 32 p.        [1713]
  • 82.  Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1986. Aspen community        types of Utah. Res. Pap. INT-362. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 69 p.        [1714]
  • 88.  Padgett, Wayne G.; Youngblood, Andrew P.; Winward, Alma H. 1989.        Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho.        R4-Ecol-89-01. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Intermountain Region. 191 p.  [11360]
  • 90.  Powell, David C. 1988. Aspen community types of the Pike and San Isabel        National Forests in south-central Colorado. R2-ECOL-88-01. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.        254 p.  [15285]
  • 91.  Ratliff, Raymond D. 1982. A meadow site classification for the Sierra        Nevada, California. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-60. Berkeley, CA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and        Range Experiment Station. 16 p.  [1941]
  • 96.  Severson, Kieth E.; Thilenius, John F. 1976. Classification of quaking        aspen stands in the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains. Res. Pap.        RM-166. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 24 p.        [2111]
  • 109.  Thilenius, John F. 1972. Classification of deer habitat in the ponderosa        pine forest of the Black Hills, South Dakota. Res. Pap. RM-91. Fort        Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 28 p.        [2317]
  • 119.  Volland, Leonard A. 1985. Plant associations of the central Oregon        Pumice Zone. Rt-ECOL-104-1985. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 138 p.  [7341]
  • 128.  Youngblood, Andrew P.; Padgett, Wayne G.; Winward, Alma H. 1985.        Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho - western        Wyoming. R4-Ecol-85-01. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 78 p.  [2686]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

   Kentucky bluegrass is found in nearly all SAF cover types

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   Kentucky bluegrass is widespread and found in nearly all Kuchler Plant Associations.

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES22  Western white pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
   FRES25  Larch
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES37  Mountain meadows
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES39  Prairie
   FRES41  Wet grasslands
   FRES42  Annual grasslands
   FRES44  Alpine

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Temperate to arctic, moderately moist to wet conditions, from coastal meadows to forest shade, to alpine and tundra, often in disturbed sites; 500–4400 m.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Dispersal

Establishment

For lawn establishment, plant 2 to 3 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. Seeding rates are reduced when seed is drilled into the top 1 inch of soil. Kentucky bluegrass can be seeded year-round, but the best results are obtained in the spring and fall. Seeds require light and frequent watering (2 to 3 times per day for the first 2 weeks) for germination to occur. After seedling emergence, watering frequency can be reduced.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plants Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Kentucky Bluegrass in Illinois

Poa pratensis (Kentucky Bluegrass)
(Bees collect pollen; this grass is wind-pollinated; this observation is from Robertson)

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum imitatus cp

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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Blumeria graminis parasitises live Poa pratensis sens.str.

Foodplant / gall
stroma of Epichlo causes gall of stem of Poa pratensis sens.str.

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Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Amblytylus nasutus sucks sap of Poa pratensis sens.lat.
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Cephus nigrinus feeds within stem of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / spot causer
Drechslera dematiaceous anamorph of Drechslera poae causes spots on live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / pathogen
colony of Fusarium anamorph of Fusarium poae infects and damages culm of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / sap sucker
Neottiglossa pusilla sucks sap of Poa pratensis sens.lat.
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous uredium of Puccinia brachypodii var. poae-nemoralis causes spots on live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous telium of Puccinia coronata parasitises live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.
Remarks: season: mid 8-

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
linear telium of Puccinia graminis f.sp. poae parasitises live stem of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / parasite
plentiful, in short rows telium of Puccinia poarum parasitises live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / spot causer
Spermospora anamorph of Spermospora poagena causes spots on live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / parasite
embedded sorus of Urocystis poae parasitises live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Foodplant / parasite
mainly hypophyllous telium of Uromyces dactylidis parasitises live leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.

Foodplant / spot causer
long, linear, erumpent sorus of Ustilago striiformis causes spots on live, blistered leaf of Poa pratensis sens.lat.
Other: minor host/prey

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: cool-season, cover, prescribed fire, warm-season

Burning for bluegrass control:  Frequent (annual or biennial) late
spring burning can be used to control Kentucky bluegrass and promote the
growth of warm-season grasses in the Midwest.  The timing of burning is
critical and should take place just prior to the resumption of
warm-season grass growth.  Such burning favors warm-season grasses
because they are dormant at the time of burning.  Conversely,
cool-season species like Kentucky bluegrass are harmed by late spring
fire because they resume growth in the early spring and are thus
actively growing at the time of burning.

In mixed-grass prairie, mid-May has proven to be the most effective time
to burn for Kentucky bluegrass control and has resulted in concomitant
increases in warm-season grasses [31,83].  In native bluestem prairie in
eastern Kansas, Kentucky bluegrass has been nearly eliminated from sites
annually spring burned for decades [112].  In aspen parkland in
northwestern Minnesota, 13 years of annual spring burning in late April,
when bluegrass was 4 to 6 inches high (10-15 cm), reduced Kentucky
bluegrass to about half its original percent composition [107].  After
10 years of biennial spring burning on the Curtis Prairie on the
University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Kentucky bluegrass frequency
decreased from 60 to 13 percent [6].

Burning to promote bluegrass growth:  When using prescribed fire to
promote the growth of cool-season species in the Northern Great Plains,
Kentucky bluegrass will probably respond best to very early spring
(March-April) or late summer (August-September) fires [130].

Disease control:  In Kentucky bluegrass commercial seed fields, burning
after harvest successfully controls several diseases.  It is effective
in controlling ergot (Claviceps purpurea); silver top, caused by the
fungus Fusarium trianctum; and the mite, Siteroptes cerealium.  Burning
also helps control leaf rust (Puccinia poae-nemoralis) and other fungi
harbored in crop residue [48].

Wildlife considerations:  Succulent new grass shoots arising from burned
mountain grasslands are highly palatable to wildlife.  On the Front
Range in Colorado, mule deer and bighorn sheep ate considerably more
Kentucky bluegrass on areas burned in late September than on nearby
unburned areas [102].  Following late October and early November fires
in aspen stands in Colorado, Kentucky bluegrass cover increased and thus
provided more forage to wildlife [99].

Where Kentucky bluegrass is desired for providing ruffed grouse drumming
ground cover, it can be burned when the soil is damp and plants are
dormant [122].

Burning under aspen:  Powell [90] reported that in south-central
Colorado, aspen/Kentucky bluegrass communities have only a moderate
probability of carrying a prescribed fire and only if livestock grazing
is deferred for at least one season.  For fall prescribed burning, the
likelihood of a relatively uniform burning treatment may be increased by
burning after aspen leaf fall [99].
  • 6.  Anderson, Roger C. 1973. The use of fire as a management tool on the        Curtis prairie. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology        conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall        Timbers Research Station: 23-35.  [8461]
  • 31.  Engle, D. M.; Bultsma, P. M. 1984. Burning of northern mixed prairie        during drought. Journal of Range Management. 37(5): 398-401.  [866]
  • 48.  Hardison, John R. 1976. Fire and disease. In: Proceedings, annual Tall        Timbers fire ecology conference; 1974 October 16-17; Portland, OR. No.        15. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 223-234.  [18990]
  • 83.  Nagal, Harold G. 1983. Effect of spring burning date on mixed-prairie        soil moisture, productivity and plant species composition. In: Kucera,        Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980        August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri:        259-263.  [3227]
  • 90.  Powell, David C. 1988. Aspen community types of the Pike and San Isabel        National Forests in south-central Colorado. R2-ECOL-88-01. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.        254 p.  [15285]
  • 99.  Smith, Jane K.; Laven, Richard D.; Omi, Philip N. 1983. Fire behavior        measurements on prescribed burns in aspen clones of    x Colorado's        Front Range. In: Proceedings, 7th conference on fire and forest        meterology; 1983 April 25-28; Fort Collins, CO. [Place of publication        unknown]
  • 102.  Spowart, Richard A.; Hobbs, N. Thompson. 1985. Effects of fire on diet        overlap between mule deer and mountain sheep. Journal of Wildlife        Management. 49(4): 942-946.  [2207]
  • 107.  Svedarsky, W. D.; Buckley, P. E.; Feiro, T. A. 1986. The effect of 13        years of annual burning on an aspen-prairie ecotone in northwestern        Minnesota. In: Clambey, Gary K.; Pemble, Richard H., eds. The prairie:        past, present and future: Proceedings, 9th North American prairie        conference; 1984 July 29 - August 1; Moorhead, MN. Fargo, ND:        Tri-College University Center for Environmental Studies: 118-122.        [3540]
  • 112.  Towne, Gene; Owensby, Clenton. 1984. Long-term effects of annual burning        at different dates in ungrazed Kansas tallgrass prairie. Journal of        Range Management. 37(5): 392-397.  [2357]
  • 122.  Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful        in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington,        DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Office        of Biological Services, Western Energy and Land Use Team. 347 p.        Available from NTIS, Springfield, VA 22161; PB-83-167023.  [2458]
  • 130.  Higgins, Kenneth F.; Kruse, Arnold D.; Piehl, James L. 1989. Prescribed        burning guidelines in the Northern Great Plains. Ext. Circ. EC-760.        Brookings, SD: South Dakota State University, Cooperative Extension        Service, South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. 36 p.        [14185]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, density, restoration

In the Mountain West, Kentucky bluegrass is often more abundant in
recently burned areas than in nearby unburned areas.  Sampling 2- to
36-year-old burns in sagebrush/grassland habitat types in southeastern
Idaho, Humphrey [56] found that Kentucky bluegrass was more abundant in
recent than in old burns.  McKell [76] compared four different-aged
burns in the Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) zone of north-central Utah.
Kentucky bluegrass cover and density were higher 1 year after a November
fire and 2 years after a January fire, but on 9- and 18-year-old burns
cover and density were the same as on nearby unburned areas.

In the Klamath Mountains of southern Oregon, Kentucky bluegrass was a
codominant grass in open ponderosa pine stands that were burned annually
in the spring for 16 years [123].

The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed

fire use and postfire response of plant community species including

Kentucky bluegrass:
  • 56.  Humphrey, L. David. 1984. Patterns and mechanisms of plant succession        after fire on Artemisia-grass sites in southeastern Idaho. Vegetatio.        57: 91-101.  [1214]
  • 76.  McKell, Cyrus M. 1950. A study of plant succession in the oak brush        (Quercus gambelii) zone after fire. Salt Lake City, UT: University of        Utah. 79 p. Thesis.  [1608]
  • 123.  Weaver, Harold. 1958. Effects of burning on range and forage values in        the ponderosa pine forest. In: Proceedings, Society of American        Foresters annual meeting: 212-215.  [16434]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cool-season, cover, density, fire frequency, frequency, prescribed fire

Kentucky bluegrass's fire response varies greatly depending on season of
burning, fire frequency, and postfire precipitation and soil moisture.

Season of burning:  Kentucky bluegrass postfire cover, biomass, and
flower stalk density are often greatly reduced during the first postfire
growing season by a single late spring fire.  Three examples are
presented to demonstrate rather typical first-year responses to late
spring burning: (1) in mixed-grass prairie unburned for several years in
north-central Nebraska, a single prescribed fire in mid-April or mid-May
greatly reduced Kentucky bluegrass basal cover in October, with cover on
burned plots only half that found on unburned plots [83], (2) after a
single mid-April fire on a tallgrass prairie site unburned for several
years in Iowa, Kentucky bluegrass relative biomass decreased from 80
percent to 25 percent during the first postfire growing season [53], and
(3) in the mountains of western Montana, Kentucky bluegrass frequency
was reduced 27.5 percent by a single late May fire in a
sagebrush/bunchgrass habitat type [18].

Kentucky bluegrass biomass production and density may be unaffected or
increase after burning at other times of the year, such as early spring,
summer, or fall.  It consistently recovers more quickly from burning at
these times of year than from burning in late spring.

In fields dominated by cool-season grasses in Wisconsin, Kentucky
bluegrass was reduced to one-fifth of its original density after 6 years
of annual burning in May; annual burning in March or October did not
affect Kentucky bluegrass density [23].  A different study in Wisconsin
showed that flower stalk density was reduced 70 percent by three annual
mid-May prescribed fires but was slightly increased by annual burning in
late March or early April [51].  Although summer grass fires can be
relatively intense, Kentucky bluegrass is dormant at this time.  It may
not be harmed by summer burning, and if precipitation is favorable, it
may even increase.  In mixed-grass prairie in north-central South
Dakota, Kentucky bluegrass frequency increased or remained unchanged on
uplands burned in early August followed by a wet spring, but decreased
on uplands burned in summer following a dry spring [103,104].  Kentucky
bluegrass's density tripled 1 year after late October and early November
low-intensity prescribed fires in aspen stands in Colorado [99].  In
ponderosa pine habitat types in British Columbia, Kentucky bluegrass
biomass was unchanged by an October prescribed fire [110].

Fire frequency:  Even after late spring burning, unless burned a second
time, Kentucky bluegrass density and cover often return to prefire
levels within 1 to 3 years.  For example, burning in May or June in Wind
Cave National Park, South Dakota, consistently reduced Kentucky
bluegrass canopy coverage, height, shoot density, flower stalk density,
and biomass during the first postfire growing season but not during
postfire years 2 and 3 [87].  In fact, biomass and density were often
greater on burned plots than on control plots during postfire year 2.
Other studies in mixed-grass prairie have shown Kentucky bluegrass cover
can be reduced for 2 or 3 years by a single late spring fire [34,83,94].

Kentucky bluegrass cannot withstand frequent spring burning.  In the
tallgrass prairie, its density decreases with increased fire frequency,
and it may be eliminated from sites that are burned annually for several
years [1,5,28,44,65,77].  In the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas,
Kentucky bluegrass canopy coverage under different burning regimes was
30.3 percent on an area unburned for 11 years, 7.0 percent on an area
burned 1 and 5 years before sampling, and 0 percent on an area burned
annually for 5 years [1].  A similar response was observed on a
reconstructed tallgrass prairie in Illinois subjected to the following
burning treatments [44]:

not burned = unburned for 19 years
burned twice = burned Feb. 28, 1952 and April 16, 1959
burned three times = burned Feb. 28, 1952; April 16, 1959; and May 2, 1961
burned four times = burned Feb. 28, 1952; April 16, 1959; May 2, 1961; and
                    May 10, 1962

Sampling at the end of the 1962 growing season showed the relative
percentage of bluegrass (P. compressa and P. pratensis) shoot biomass
decreased with increased burning frequency in two community types as
follows:

                               Burning Treatment 
                 not burned     burned twice    burned      burned
                                               3 times     4 times
Community type
big bluestem        23.4             18.3         4.6          0
indiangrass         18.6             15.9         3.3          0

Vogl [117] sampled several pine barrens in northern Wisconsin and
reported that Kentucky bluegrass frequency either increased or decreased
within 1 year of a single spring fire but that Kentucky bluegrass was
eliminated on sites spring burned more than once every few years.

Influence of postfire moisture:  Kentucky bluegrass is more susceptible
to fire damage on ridge sites than in depressions, especially in dry
years [52].  In fact, in swales and low prairie sites that receive
upslope moisture, Kentucky bluegrass often increases after spring
burning.  In bluegrass fields in Wisconsin, Kentucky bluegrass density
and biomass increased in depressions but decreased or remained unchanged
on ridgetops after two successive mid-April fires [129].  In eastern
South Dakota, Kentucky bluegrass recovered well from early May burning
if irrigated.  On burned but unirrigated plots, however, biomass
decreased sharply [12].  In eastern North Dakota, lowland and upland
prairies were burned on May 8, 1966.  Postfire data on August 4, 1966
showed that Kentucky bluegrass frequency increased on lowlands but
remained unchanged on uplands.  Biomass on both uplands and lowlands
decreased, but the decrease was much greater on uplands [43].  When
postfire growing season precipitation was "considerably below normal" in
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, Kentucky bluegrass biomass on
burned areas was less than half that found on unburned areas whether
burned on September 18, February 13, or April 10 [37].

In a sagebrush/rough fescue habitat type in Montana, Kentucky bluegrass
biomass increased the first summer after a mid-May prescribed fire [95].
This increase was unexpected because bluegrass should be susceptible to
burning at this time.  This increase may be due to the high moisture
availability in surface soils at this site due to concave slope shape.
In contrast, another study in western Montana found Kentucky bluegrass
decreased after a prescribed fire on May 24 in a sagebrush/fescue
habitat type [18].
  • 5.  Anderson, Kling L.; Smith, Ed F.; Owensby, Clenton E. 1970. Burning        bluestem range. Journal of Range Management. 23: 81-92.  [323]
  • 1.  Abrams, Marc D. 1988. Effects of burning regime on buried seed banks and        canopy coverage in a Kansas tallgrass prairie. Southwestern Naturalist.        33(1): 65-70.  [4415]
  • 12.  Blankespoor, Gilbert W.; Bich, Brian S. 1991. Kentucky bluegrass        response to burning: interactions between fire and soil moisture.        Prairie Naturalist. 23(4): 181-192.  [18062]
  • 18.  Bushey, Charles L. 1985. Summary of results from the Galena Gulch 1982        spring burns (Units 1b). Missoula, MT: Systems for Environmental        Management. 9 p.  [567]
  • 23.  Curtis, John T.; Partch, Max L. 1948. Effects of fire on the competition        between blue grass and certain prairie plants. American Midland        Naturalist. 39(2): 437-443.  [5436]
  • 28.  Dokken, Dee Ann; Hulbert, Lloyd C. 1978. Effect of standing dead plants        on stem density in bluestem prairie. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers,        Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976        August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 78-81.  [3348]
  • 34.  Forde, Jon D. 1983. The effect of fire on bird and small mammal        communities in the grasslands of Wind Cave National Park. Houghton, MI:        Michigan Technological University. 140 p. Thesis.  [937]
  • 37.  Gartner, F. Robert. 1975. Final Report: Wind Cave National Park        grassland ecology. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station        Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT: 29 p.  [3869]
  • 43.  Hadley, Elmer B. 1970. Net productivity and burning response of native        eastern North Dakota prairie communities. American Midland Naturalist.        84(1): 121-135.  [5434]
  • 44.  Hadley, E. B.; Kieckhefer, B. J. 1963. Productivity of two prairie        grasses in relation to fire frequency. Ecology. 44(2): 389-395.  [5433]
  • 51.  Henderson, Richard A.; Lovell, David L.; Howell, Evelyn A. 1983. The        flowering responses of 7 grasses to seasonal timing of prescribed        burning in remnant Wisconsin prairie. In: Brewer, Richard, ed.        Proceedings, 8th North American prairie conference; 1982 August 1-4;        Kalamazoo, MI. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University, Department of        Biology: 7-10.  [3114]
  • 52.  Higgins, Kenneth F.; Kruse, Arnold D.; Piehl, James L. 1989. Effects of        fire in the Northern Great Plains. Ext. Circ. EC-761. Brookings, SD:        South Dakota State University, Cooperative Extension Service, South        Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. 47 p.  [14749]
  • 53.  Hill, Gerald R.; Platt, William J. 1975. Some effects of fire upon a        tall grass prairie plant communmity in northwestern Iowa. In: Wali,        Mohan K, ed. Prairie a multiple view. Grand Forks, ND: University of        North Dakota Press: 103-114.  [4433]
  • 65.  Launchbaugh, John L.; Owensby, Clenton E. 1978. Kansas rangelands: Their        management based on a half century of research. Bull. 622. Hays, KS:        Kansas State University, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 56 p.        [9477]
  • 77.  McMurphy, Wilfred E.; Anderson, Kling L. 1965. Burning Flint Hills        range. Journal of Range Management. 18: 265-269.  [30]
  • 83.  Nagal, Harold G. 1983. Effect of spring burning date on mixed-prairie        soil moisture, productivity and plant species composition. In: Kucera,        Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980        August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri:        259-263.  [3227]
  • 87.  Olson, Wendell W. 1975. Effects of controlled burning on grassland        within the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge. Fargo, ND: North Dakota        University of Agriculture and Applied Science. 137 p. Thesis.  [15252]
  • 94.  Schacht, Walter; Stubbendieck, J. 1985. Prescribed burning in the loess        hills mixed prairie of southern Nebraska. Journal of Range Management.        38(1): 47-51.  [2071]
  • 95.  Schwecke, Deitrich A.; Hann, Wendell. 1989. Fire behavior and vegetation        response to spring and fall burning on the Helena National Forest. In:        Baumgartner, David M.; Breuer, David W.; Zamora, Benjamin A.; [and        others]
  • 99.  Smith, Jane K.; Laven, Richard D.; Omi, Philip N. 1983. Fire behavior        measurements on prescribed burns in aspen clones of    x Colorado's        Front Range. In: Proceedings, 7th conference on fire and forest        meterology; 1983 April 25-28; Fort Collins, CO. [Place of publication        unknown]
  • 103.  Steuter, Allen A. 1986. Fire behavior and standing crop characteristics        on repeated seasonal burns--northern mixed prairie. In: Koonce, Andrea        L., ed. Prescribed burning in the Midwest: state-of-the-art: Proceedings        of a symposium; 1986 March 3-6; Stevens Point, WI. Stevens Point, WI:        University of Wisconsin, College of Natural Resources, Fire Science        Center: 54-59.  [16269]
  • 104.  Steuter, Allen A. 1986. Regional fire ecology of Northern Mixed Prairie        (South Dakota). Restoration & Management Notes. 4(2): 86-87.  [2236]
  • 110.  Thomson, Sandra. 1988. The effects on vegetation of prescribed burning        for wildlife habitat and range improvement in southeastern British        Columbia. In: Feller, M.C.; Thomson, S.M., eds. Wildlife and range        prescribed burning workshop proceedings; 1987 October 27-28; Richmond,        BC. Vancouver, BC: The University of British Columbia, Faculty of        Forestry: 120-133.  [3106]
  • 117.  Vogl, Richard J. 1971. Fire and the northern Wisconsin pine barrens. In:        Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire ecology conference; 1970 August        20-21; New Brunsick, Canada. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 175-209.  [2432]
  • 129.  Zedler, Joy; Loucks, Orie L. 1969. Differential burning response of Poa        pratensis fields and Andropogon scoparius prairies in central Wisconsin.        American Midland Naturalist. 81(2): 341-352.  [14795]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: cool-season, cover, density, tiller

Plant phenological stage at time of burning greatly influences fire
damage to herbaceous plants.  In general, as new foliage of perennial
grasses reaches full development major food reserves have been depleted,
so that plants are injured most from fires occurring at this time
[24,93].  Because Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass, active in
the spring and fall, it is most susceptible to fire damage at those
times.  Late spring fires, after plants have been growing for about a
month or more, are the most damaging to Kentucky bluegrass.  Sampling at
the end of the first growing season after late spring burning shows that
Kentucky bluegrass basal cover and tiller density are typically much
lower in burned areas than in nearby unburned areas
[11,26,31,43,83,86,87,94,106].

Cool fires conducted when plants are dormant have little effect on
Kentucky bluegrass [62].
  • 11.  Blankespoor, Gilbert W. 1987. The effects of prescribed burning on a        tall-grass prairie remnant in eastern South Dakota. Prairie Naturalist.        19(3): 177-188.  [2757]
  • 24.  Daubenmire, R. 1968. Ecology of fire in grasslands. In: Cragg, J. B.,        ed. Advances in ecological research: Vol. 5. New York: Academic Press:        209-266.  [739]
  • 26.  Diboll, Neil. 1986. Mowing as an alternative to spring burning for        control of cool season exotic grasses in prairie grass plantings. In:        Clambey, Gary K.; Pemble, Richard H., eds. The prairie: past, present        and future: Proceedings, 9th North American prairie conference; 1984        July 29 - August 1; Moorhead, MN. Fargo, ND: Tri-College University        Center for Environmental Studies: 204-209.  [3574]
  • 31.  Engle, D. M.; Bultsma, P. M. 1984. Burning of northern mixed prairie        during drought. Journal of Range Management. 37(5): 398-401.  [866]
  • 43.  Hadley, Elmer B. 1970. Net productivity and burning response of native        eastern North Dakota prairie communities. American Midland Naturalist.        84(1): 121-135.  [5434]
  • 62.  Kovalchik, Bernard L. 1987. Riparian zone associations: Deschutes,        Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests. R6 ECOL TP-279-87.        Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Northwest Region. 171 p.  [9632]
  • 83.  Nagal, Harold G. 1983. Effect of spring burning date on mixed-prairie        soil moisture, productivity and plant species composition. In: Kucera,        Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980        August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri:        259-263.  [3227]
  • 86.  Old, Sylvia M. 1969. Microclimate, fire, and plant production in an        Illinois prairie. Ecological Monographs. 39(4): 355-384.  [154]
  • 87.  Olson, Wendell W. 1975. Effects of controlled burning on grassland        within the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge. Fargo, ND: North Dakota        University of Agriculture and Applied Science. 137 p. Thesis.  [15252]
  • 93.  Risser, P. G.; Birney, E. C.; Blocker, H. D.; [and others]
  • 94.  Schacht, Walter; Stubbendieck, J. 1985. Prescribed burning in the loess        hills mixed prairie of southern Nebraska. Journal of Range Management.        38(1): 47-51.  [2071]
  • 106.  Svedarsky, W. Daniel; Buckley, Philip E. 1975. Some interactions of        fire, prairie and aspen in northwest Minnesota. In: Wali, Mohan K., ed.        Prairie: a multiple view. Grand Forks, ND: University of North Dakota        Press: 115-122.  [4434]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the term: rhizome

   Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: density, prescribed fire

During grassland fires, the fire front passes quickly and temperatures 1
inch (2.5 cm) below the soil surface rise very little [24].  During a
late April prescribed fire in an oak savanna in Minnesota, where
Kentucky bluegrass formed an almost complete sod between bunches of
native tallgrasses, temperatures immediately below the soil surface
rarely exceeded 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51 deg C) [108].  Located a
couple of inches below the soil surface, Kentucky bluegrass rhizomes
survive and initiate new growth after aboveground plant portions are
consumed by fire.  Although the plant survives because of soil-insulated
rhizomes, postfire plant vigor and density are greatly affected by
phenological stage at time of burning (see Fire Effects On Plant).

Seedling establishment is unimportant in immediate postfire recovery.
However, burning may enhance seed germination of Kentucky bluegrass
during the second postfire growing season.  On an Iowa prairie
codominated by big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii),
indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), and Kentucky bluegrass, Kentucky
bluegrass seedlings were more abundant in 1986 on plots burned in May,
June, August, or November of 1985 than on unburned plots [131].
  • 24.  Daubenmire, R. 1968. Ecology of fire in grasslands. In: Cragg, J. B.,        ed. Advances in ecological research: Vol. 5. New York: Academic Press:        209-266.  [739]
  • 108.  Tester, John R. 1965. Effects of a controlled burn on small mammals in a        Minnesota oak-savanna. American Midland Naturalist. 74(1): 240-244.        [279]
  • 131.  Johnson, Louise Adele. 1987. The effect of fires at different times of        the year vegetative and sexual reproduction of grasses, and on        establishment of seedlings. Ames, IA: Iowa State University. 91 p.        Thesis.  [20303]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: climax

Facultative Seral Species

Kentucky bluegrass is extremely competitive.  Due to past grazing and
lowering of water tables in western riparian habitats, Kentucky
bluegrass now dominates many sites once occupied by tufted hairgrass,
woolly sedge (Carex lanuginosa), widefruit sedge (C. eurycarpa), aquatic
sedge (C. aquatilis), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis),
Cusick bluegrass, and willows [47,62,88].  Once it has gained dominance,
it is persistent and remains a relatively stable community component.

In the Intermountain West, aspen/Kentucky bluegrass communities are
grazing-induced seral stages which have replaced the following climax or
near climax communities [80,82]:  aspen/mountain snowberry/Fendler
meadowrue (Thalictrum fendleri), aspen/mountain snowberry/pinegrass
(Calamagrostis rubescens), aspen/Fendler meadowrue, aspen/pinegrass,
aspen/mountain snowberry/elk sedge (Carex geyeri), and aspen/elk sedge.

In ponderosa pine and bunchgrass habitat types, Kentucky bluegrass is
often the herbaceous layer dominant on sites with a history of past
grazing abuse.  Daubenmire [25] called such sites a "zootic climax"
because even after the grazing disturbance has been stopped for many
years, there is no indication that Kentucky bluegrass will give way to
the native climax species. 
  • 25.  Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Technical Bulletin        62. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture,        Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. 131 p.  [733]
  • 47.  Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian        dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University        of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation        Experiment Station. 411 p.  [5660]
  • 62.  Kovalchik, Bernard L. 1987. Riparian zone associations: Deschutes,        Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests. R6 ECOL TP-279-87.        Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Northwest Region. 171 p.  [9632]
  • 80.  Mueggler, Walter F. 1988. Aspen community types of the Intermountain        Region. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-250. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 135 p.        [5902]
  • 82.  Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1986. Aspen community        types of Utah. Res. Pap. INT-362. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 69 p.        [1714]
  • 88.  Padgett, Wayne G.; Youngblood, Andrew P.; Winward, Alma H. 1989.        Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho.        R4-Ecol-89-01. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Intermountain Region. 191 p.  [11360]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: cover, fresh, rhizome

Kentucky bluegrass is a vigorous herbaceous competitor.  Not only does
it spread by rhizome expansion, it also produces abundant seed which
accounts for good seedling recruitment and establishment on disturbed
sites.

There are 2.1 to 2.2 million seeds per pound (4.6-4.8 million/kg).
Germinative capacity varies from 75 to 94 percent.  Seeds require light
for germination [35].

In eastern Washington, fresh seed sown in July began germinating on
November 18; seedling emergence continued into December beneath an
occasional snow cover.  Autumn seed germination was regulated more by
temperature and moisture than by the amount or quality of light [14].
  • 14.  Bookman, Peter A. 1983. Microsite utilization by Bromus tectorum L. and        Poa pratensis L. in a meadow steppe community. Oecologia. 56: 413-418.        413-418.  [486]
  • 35.  Fulbright, Timothy E.; Redente, Edward F.; Hargis, Norman E. 1982.        Growing Colorado plants from seed: a state of the art: Volume II:        Grasses and grasslike plants. FWS/OBS-82/29. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 113 p.  [3709]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: geophyte

  
   Geophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: graminoid

Graminoid

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phenology

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the first grasses to resume growth in late
winter or early spring.  It grows rapidly, and in many states it flowers
in May [19,27].  In Kentucky and Missouri, seeds are mature by mid-June
[125].  By midsummer plants become nearly dormant.  With cool
temperatures and precipitation, growth resumes in the fall and continues
until daytime temperatures approach freezing [97,105].

Flowering time for several states is as follows:

Montana - late May and early June [97]
North Dakota - late May and early June [69]
Nebraska - May [105]

Kentucky bluegrass phenology was studied over a 3-year period on the
Sheyenne National Grasslands in southeastern North Dakota.  Timing of
phenological events was as follows (average dates for the 3 years
studied) [69]:

Resumption of spring growth - green leaves observed during snowmelt in
mid-March, but rapid growth began in early April.

Flowering - flower stalks appeared in mid-May.  Most flowering occurred
in late May and early June.  Nearly all plants completed anthesis within
one week.

Seed maturation - mature seeds were observed in mid- to late June.  Seed
stalks became dried after anthesis and were easily removed by wind.
Most stalks were removed by midsummer. 

Senescence and regrowth - maximum leaf height occurred in mid-June and
leaf senescence occurred shortly thereafter.  Plants were semidormant
during midsummer.  Large amounts of vegetative regrowth began in late
July and early August.  Forty percent of leaves present at the end of
August were new growth, which continued for a short time after the first
hard frost.
  • 19.  Bazzaz, F. A. 1986. Life history of colonizing plants: some demographic,        genetic, and physiological features. In: Mooney, Harold A.; Drake, James        A., eds. Ecology of Biological Invasions of North America and Hawaii.        Ecological Studies 58. New York: Springer-Verlag: 96-110.  [17512]
  • 27.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 69.  Manske, Llewellyn Leo. 1980. Habitat, phenology and growth of selected        sandhills range plants. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. 154 p.        Dissertation.  [4549]
  • 97.  Shaw, A. F.; Cooper, C. S. 1973. The Interagency forage, conservation        and wildlife handbook. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University, Extension        Service. 205 p.  [5666]
  • 105.  Stubbendieck, J.; Nichols, James T.; Roberts, Kelly K. 1985. Nebraska        range and pasture grasses (including grass-like plants). E.C. 85-170.        Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, Department of Agriculture,        Cooperative Extension Service. 75 p.  [2269]
  • 125.  Wheeler, W. A.; Hill, D. D. 1957. Grassland seeds. Princeton, NJ: D. Van        Nostrand Company, Inc. 628 p.  [18902]

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Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Reproduction

On any given parent plant the number of axillary buds is dependent on the number of leaves. Etter (1951) reports that in dry, shady localities, Kentucky bluegrass may develop as few as 7 to 9 leaves, 12 to 14 in a meadow, and as many as 18 in a moist pasture. Each axillary bud has the developmental possibility of early tiller formation or delayed rhizome development.

In rangeland terminology a "tiller" often refers to any aerial shoot. In the strict parlance of developmental morphology a "tiller" is an aerial shoot that develops in the axillary bud of live leaf tissue (Etter 1951, Dahl and Hyder 1977). These new shoots develop root systems of their own and are hence a method of vegetative reproduction. Because of their origin, tillers always develop in close proximity to the parent plant. Young tillers derive their nutrition from the parent plant until they have attained full growth (Dahl and Hyder 1977). Although tillers develop true root systems of their own, these systems are not extensive (Etter 1951) and mature tillers neither translocate nor receive carbohydrates to and from other shoots derived from the same parent plant. There is a high mortality of tillers during the season of formation (Etter 1951).

Tillering is favored by cool temperatures (Etter 1951, Darrow 1939) and short day lengths (Evans and Watkins 1939, Evans 1927) and reaches its maximum in spring and fall, but declines in midsummer. Tillering is induced by early removal of developing flowering culms while the floral initiates are still enclosed within the sheath (booth stage) (Dahl and Hyder 1977). Etter (1951) reports that tillering is correlated with short leaves and, in a separate context, that Poa pratensis is more likely to develop long leaves in the shade. Well-lit situations that foster an abundance of shorter leaves may therefore enhance tillering. Etter (1951) reports that tillering is encouraged by April mowing to prevent flowering, fall grazing, fall nitrogen fertilization, fall irrigation and removal of dead plant material and shading.

Both Poa pratensis and Poa compressa are rhizomatous perennial grasses. Some North American fields of Poa pratensis are known to be as old as 60 years (USDA 1948). Volland (1978) attributes the inter-seasonal longevity of bluegrass to the activity of the rhizomes.

Axillary buds that have not formed tillers can develop into rhizomes, lateral shoots that penetrate the enveloping leaf sheath and develop underground (Dahl and Hyder 1977, Etter 1951). Rhizomes can form on the surface of the soil (Evans and Ely 1935, Etter 1951), but soon turn downward. Rhizomes account for bluegrass's sod-forming capability and can extend the horizontal growth of the plant as much as 2 square meters in 2 years (Kannenberg and Wrede 1934). The mode of elongation is the same as for aboveground shoots. The length of the rhizome is a function of the degree of internode elongation. Under conditions of drought or on excessively drained soils, short internodes (and hence short rhizomes) are produced. Short sprout-like rhizomes appear to increase under adverse conditions such as high temperatures (Harrison 1934) fire injury, or too close grazing and mowing (Etter 1951).

Rhizome formation and growth occurs throughout the year except late winter and early spring. Initiation of new rhizomes from axillary buds that have remained dormant overwinter invariably occurs when the inflorescence begins to elongate (Etter 1951). Brown (1939) found that rhizome elongation peaks between 60 and 70 degrees F. Evans and Ely (1935) report a midsummer peak of rhizome formation in Ohio. Summer- formed rhizomes can remain dormant until the following spring or develop into aerial shoots anytime during the growing season.

Rhizomes constitute a major sink for storage of carbohydrates in Poa pratensis. Brown (1943) reports that late autumn is the most favorable period for carbohydrate storage in Kentucky bluegrass.

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Ecosystem withstands attack: Kentucky bluegrass
 

Lawn ecosystems such as that of Kentucky bluegrass survive attack by weeds by maintaining network connections, community components, and stability.

         
  "What the threatened lawn must do is take advantage of what makes it different from the weed. For where weeds are, par excellence, solitary hunters, lawn grass is overwhelmingly a tightly grouped species. Most grass blades on your lawn are over eight months old, and some will be over twenty months old. But even more importantly, the whole community of lawn grass might have been growing in the same place for years. And in that time, all stable and steady, it will have had time to acquire friends. Lots and lots of minature friends." [goes on to mention bacteria and fungus]

"There's an entire cabled-up network under your lawn, connecting all the grass roots. It's been building up for the whole life of your lawn and by now can easily shunt liquid food supplies from a well-supplied sector to a threatened one. The weed, though tracking the sun with its antenna and trying like mad to grow fresh roots of its own, can't compete with a system this large and long-establishedA single square yard of lawn planted with Kentucky bluegrass can have ten billion root probes. Even if only a fraction of them have had time to build up the connecting fungus cables, that's still many millions of links, and so an extraordinary volume of subterranean space from which any threatened grass blade can, via the shunting network, draw help." (Bodanis 1992:165)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Bodanis, D. 1992. The Secret Garden: Dawn to Dusk in the Astonishing Hidden World of the Garden. Simon & Schuster. 187 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Poa pratensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 30
Specimens with Barcodes: 70
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Kentucky bluegrass is listed as an invasive weed in the Great Plains States and Wisconsin. Please consult the PLANTS Web (http://plants.usda.gov) site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

White grubs, billbugs and sod webworms can destroy plantings of bluegrass. Insect populations should be monitored so that timely insecticide applications can be made. Pest management in this manner is much more cost effective than routine insecticide applications or replanting large areas.

Kentucky bluegrass is sometimes vulnerable to fungal infections including Fusarium, Helminthosporium, leaf spot, rust and powdery mildew. Mixing bluegrass seed with ryegrass will prevent Fusarium blight.

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: cool-season, density, presence, warm-season

Grazing:  The desirability of Kentucky bluegrass on rangeland is limited
because of low production, summer dormancy, and propensity to invade
native grasslands.  This grass is highly resistant to grazing because
growing points remain belowground throughout the growing season, and it
has a low ratio of reproductive to vegetative stems [30].  Few grasses
are able to withstand heavy grazing as well as Kentucky bluegrass.  It
increases rapidly on overgrazed pastures and ranges, and its presence is
usually an indication of poor grazing management in the past.

On tallgrass prairie rangeland, Kentucky bluegrass density is best kept
in check by a combination of grazing management and prescribed burning.
It was effectively controlled in eastern Kansas with either season-long
or intensive early season grazing combined with late spring prescribed
burning [65].  Kentucky bluegrass also decreases with a combination of
late spring mowing and raking, which simulates burning [86].

In the Mountain West, Kentucky bluegrass is well adapted to meadows
which have seasonally high water tables and midsummer drought [120].  It
has become naturalized and dominates many meadows once dominated by
tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and sedges.  Replacement of
Kentucky bluegrass with the original natives is impractical because of
its competitive ability.  Even after 11 years of rest from livestock
grazing, a Kentucky bluegrass meadow in central Oregon did not advance
toward dominance by tufted hairgrass [118].  For livestock use, these
sites are best managed under a grazing system other than season long
use.

Bluegrass control with herbicides:  Herbicides are used for cool-season
grass control prior to planting warm-season grass species for prairie
restoration, and for cool-season grass suppression in overgrazed
pastures.  Atrazine and glyphosate effectively control Kentucky
bluegrass.  On rangeland in eastern Nebraska, April application of
atrazine or glyphosate reduced Kentucky bluegrass relative composition
by 98 and 96 percent, respectively, after one growing season [121].
After two growing seasons, bluegrass recovery was negligible.  This
allowed yields of native warm-season grasses to increase dramatically.

Soil stability:  Because of its shallow root system, Kentucky bluegrass
is generally not as good a soil stabilizer as the native grasses and
forbs it replaces.  In riparian settings, it is ineffective in
stabilizing streambanks.  Erosion and channel downcutting may occur,
especially where excessively grazed [47,62].

Flood resistance:  Kentucky bluegrass is intolerant of prolonged
flooding, high water tables, or poor drainage [122].
  • 30.  Ehrenreich, John H.; Aikman, John M. 1963. An ecological study of the        effect on certain management practices on native prairie in Iowa.        Ecological Monographs. 33(2): 113-130.  [9]
  • 47.  Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian        dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University        of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation        Experiment Station. 411 p.  [5660]
  • 62.  Kovalchik, Bernard L. 1987. Riparian zone associations: Deschutes,        Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests. R6 ECOL TP-279-87.        Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Northwest Region. 171 p.  [9632]
  • 65.  Launchbaugh, John L.; Owensby, Clenton E. 1978. Kansas rangelands: Their        management based on a half century of research. Bull. 622. Hays, KS:        Kansas State University, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station. 56 p.        [9477]
  • 86.  Old, Sylvia M. 1969. Microclimate, fire, and plant production in an        Illinois prairie. Ecological Monographs. 39(4): 355-384.  [154]
  • 118.  Volland, Leonard A. 1978. Trends in standing crop and species        composition of a rested Kentucky bluegrass meadow over an 11-year        period. In: Proceedings--1st intenational rangeland congress. Denver,        CO: Society for Range Management: 526-529.  [3834]
  • 120.  Volland, Leonard A. 1985. Guidelines for forage resource evaluation        within central Oregon Pumice Zone. R6-Ecol-177-1985. Portland, OR: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 216        p.  [12497]
  • 121.  Waller, S. S.; Schmidt, D. K. 1983. Improvement of eastern Nebraska        tallgrass range using atrazine or glyphosate. Journal of Range        Management. 36(1): 87-90.  [20299]
  • 122.  Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful        in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington,        DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Office        of Biological Services, Western Energy and Land Use Team. 347 p.        Available from NTIS, Springfield, VA 22161; PB-83-167023.  [2458]

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Control

Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. The USDA NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

There are over one hundred Kentucky bluegrass cultivars readily available by commercial sources. Many of these cultivars have been developed for disease resistance, and nutritional content for livestock.

Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Seed production

Seeds are sown in springtime in a cold frame containing moist compost. Seedlings are thinned to individual pots and moved into a greenhouse where they will remain for the first winter. After the last spring frost, plant the seedlings into their permanent positions. Plant divisions can be directly planted into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.

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The active growth stage of Kentucky bluegrass begins in late winter/early spring. By midsummer, it is nearly dominant on its sites. Cool temperatures in fall promote growth when other species are dying back. It spreads by rhizomes, produces abundant seed, and can become established on disturbed sites faster than other plant species. It is an aggressive competitor with native species.

Total replacement of Kentucky bluegrass by natives is labor-intensive and impractical. It is best to manage for warm season native grasses rather than against Kentucky bluegrass. In grasslands, atrazine and glyphosphate are effective herbicides for decreasing Kentucky bluegrass abundance when applied prior to seeding warm-season native grasses like big bluestem. Also, irregular spring and fall burns can help to control or maintain co-dominance of Kentucky bluegrass (as opposed to complete dominance).

Kentucky bluegrass pastures are best managed under a grazing system other than season-long use. At the end of the growing season, it becomes less palatable and protein and fiber contents decline.

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Weediness

This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: FORAGE/BROWSE

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the term: cover

Kentucky bluegrass's value in rehabilitation work is limited because it
is slow to establish cover, is not drought tolerant, and has high soil
fertility requirements [116].  When planted in seed mixtures, it often
takes 2 or 3 years to become established.  Once established, however, it
is persistent and forms a dense sod which promotes soil stability [49].
It is used in Alaska, Colorado, and Wisconsin for soil stabilization
along highway roadbanks [49].  In the West, it is probably best suited
for establishing cover in disturbed subalpine habitats [9]; however,
Hassel and others [50] recommend Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa) over
Kentucky bluegrass for revegetation projects on mountain sites in the
Intermountain West.

A summary of Kentucky bluegrass's performance at numerous reclamation
sites has been published [49]. 
  • 9.  Berg, W. A.; Brown, J. A.; Cuany, R. L., co-chairmen. 1974. Proceedings        of a workshop on revegetation of high-altitude disturbed lands.        Information Series No. 10. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University,        Environmental Resources Center. 87 p.  [3697]
  • 49.  Hardy BBT Limited. 1989. Manual of plant species suitability for        reclamation in Alberta. 2d ed. Report No. RRTAC 89-4. Edmonton, AB:        Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council. 436 p.  [15460]
  • 50.  Hassell, Wendell G.; Carlson, Jack; Doughty, Jim. 1983. Grasses for        revegetation of mountain sites. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Shaw, Nancy,        compilers. Managing Intermountain rangelands--improvement of range &        wildlife habitats: Proceedings of symposia; 1981 September 15-17; Twin        Falls, ID; 1982 June 22-24; Elko, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-157. Ogden,        UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest        and Range Experiment Station: 95-101.  [1105]
  • 116.  Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minesoils in the        eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station. 190 p.  [15575]

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Cover Value

More info for the terms: cover, selection

Kentucky bluegrass provides good cover for small mammals and nongame
birds.  For waterfowl and upland game birds, cover value is fair to
good, depending upon species.

Where abundant, Kentucky bluegrass is preferred nesting cover of
blue-winged teal.  In the Midwest, bluegrass fields are used extensively
for nesting by this duck [8].

Kentucky bluegrass provides poor nesting cover for the ring-necked
pheasant [39].  In south-central South Dakota, Kentucky bluegrass was
important to nesting sharp-tailed grouse, occurring at 84 percent of all
nests [42], however, on the Sheyenne National Grasslands in southeastern
North Dakota, Kentucky bluegrass was seldom used by nesting
sharp-tailed grouse or prairie chickens [70].  Because upland game birds
require dense, residual cover for nesting in the spring, cattle grazing
greatly influences nest site selection [42].
  • 8.  Bellrose, Frank C. 1980. Ducks, geese and swans of North America.        Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 3rd ed. 540 p.  [19802]
  • 39.  George, Ronnie R.; Farris, Allen L.; Schwartz, Charles C.; [and others]
  • 42.  Grosz, Kevin Lee. 1988. Sharp-tailed grouse nesting and brood rearing        habitat in grazed and nongrazed treatments in southcentral North Dakota.        Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. 72 p. M.S. thesis.  [5491]
  • 70.  Manske, Llewellyn L.; Barker, William T. 1988. Habitat usage by prairie        grouse on the Sheyenne National Grasslands. In: Bjugstad, Ardell J.,        technical coordinator. Prairie chickens on the Sheyenne National        Grasslands [symposium proceedings]

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Nutritional Value

More info for the term: fresh

Early growth stages of Kentucky bluegrass are nutritious.  After
flowering, nutritive value declines, and the plant may only provide for
the minimum maintenance energy needs of ruminants.  Crude protein
content of leaves, for example, is often greater than 20 percent in
early spring before elongation of flowering culms.  After flowering,
protein content of leaves drops to less than 5 percent [74].  Similarly,
fiber content increases as plants mature.

The National Academy of Sciences [84] reported the following nutritional
information for fresh, aerial parts of Kentucky bluegrass during various
growth stages:

                   % Protein    % Ash   % Crude Fiber   % N-free Extract
growth stage      (N x 6.25)       

immature             17.5        9.4        25.4             44.2
early bloom          16.6        7.1        27.4             44.9
mid-bloom             13.2        7.6        29.2             46.1
milk stage           11.6        7.3        30.3             47.2
dough stage           9.5        6.6        34.8             46.0
mature                9.5        6.2        32.2             49.0
over ripe             3.3        6.3        42.1             47.0

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, Kentucky bluegrass plants growing in
shaded locations had more crude fiber and less nitrogen-free extract
than plants growing in full sunlight.  Although plants from shaded
locations were still nutritious for cattle, they were less palatable
[74].
  • 74.  McEwen, Lowell C.; Dietz, Donald R. 1965. Shade effects on chemical        composition of herbage in the Black Hills. Journal of Range Management.        18: 184-190.  [3993]
  • 84.  National Academy of Sciences. 1971. Atlas of nutritional data on United        States and Canadian feeds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.        772 p.  [1731]

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Palatability

More info for the term: warm-season

Kentucky bluegrass is highly palatable to most large grazers during the
spring when it is green and succulent.  When semidormant in the summer,
palatability is much reduced.  In moist mountain meadows, palatability
remains somewhat high during the summer.

In aspen parkland and mountain grasslands, Kentucky bluegrass is often
one of the most preferred grasses of cattle and sheep [15,75].  In some
Kentucky bluegrass-dominated meadows cattle grazing pressure can be
severe.  For example, along Catherine Creek in northeastern Oregon,
cattle preferred feeding in both dry and moist Kentucky bluegrass
meadows over other riparian vegetation types.  Kentucky bluegrass was
utilized from 55 to 79 percent in dry meadows and from 67 to 80 percent
in moist meadows [60].  In central Oregon, Kentucky-bluegrass-dominated
meadows are more palatable into midsummer than drier meadows dominated
by Cusick bluegrass (Poa cusickii) [120].

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, sedges (Carex spp.), wheatgrasses
(Agropyron spp.), and timber oatgrass (Danthonia intermedia) were
preferred by cattle over Kentucky bluegrass [114].

Kentucky bluegrass was one of the most preferred grasses of cattle under
season-long grazing in the ponderosa pine type of northern Arizona [20].

In the prairie states, Kentucky bluegrass is most palatable to livestock
in the spring before warm-season grasses have resumed growth [21].

Palatability to wildlife in western states is rated as follows
[27,62,97]:

                         CO      MT      ND      OR      UT      WY
Pronghorn               ----    ----    poor     ----   good    good
Elk                     good    good    ----     good   good    good
Mule deer               ----    fair    poor     good   good    good
White-tailed deer       ----    good    poor     good   ----    good
Small mammals           good    fair    fair     ----   good    good
Small nongame birds     ----    fair    fair     ----   fair    good
Upland game birds       ----    fair    poor     ----   fair    good
Waterfowl               ----    good    good     ----   fair    good
  • 15.  Bowns, James E.; Bagley, Calvin F. 1986. Vegetation responses to        long-term sheep grazing on mountain ranges. Journal of Range Management.        39(5): 431-434.  [15584]
  • 20.  Clary, Warren P. 1975. Range management and its ecological basis in the        ponderosa pine type of Arizona: the status of our knowledge. Res. Pap.        RM-158. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p.        [4688]
  • 21.  Crawford, Hewlette S.; Kucera, Clair L.; Ehrenreich, John H. 1969. Ozark        range and wildlife plants. Agric. Handb. 356. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 236 p.  [18602]
  • 27.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 60.  Kauffman, J. Boone; Krueger, W. C.; Vavra, M. 1983. Effects of late        season cattle grazing on riparian plant communities. Journal of Range        Management. 36(6): 685-691.  [16965]
  • 62.  Kovalchik, Bernard L. 1987. Riparian zone associations: Deschutes,        Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests. R6 ECOL TP-279-87.        Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Northwest Region. 171 p.  [9632]
  • 75.  McInnis, Michael L.; Vavra, Martin. 1986. Summer diets of domestic sheep        grazing mountain meadows in northeastern Oregon. Northwest Science.        60(4): 265-2170.  [1604]
  • 97.  Shaw, A. F.; Cooper, C. S. 1973. The Interagency forage, conservation        and wildlife handbook. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University, Extension        Service. 205 p.  [5666]
  • 114.  Uresk, Daniel W. 1987. Diets of cattle in the Black Hills of South        Dakota. In: Fisser, Herbert G., ed. Wyoming shrublands: Proceedings,        16th Wyoming shrub ecology workshop; 1987 May 26-27; Sundance, WY.        Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming, Department of Range Management,        Wyoming Shrub Ecology Workshop: 33-35.  [13916]
  • 120.  Volland, Leonard A. 1985. Guidelines for forage resource evaluation        within central Oregon Pumice Zone. R6-Ecol-177-1985. Portland, OR: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 216        p.  [12497]

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Other uses and values

Kentucky bluegrass is one of America's most popular lawn grasses.  It
withstands considerable abuse, and it is often used as a sod-grass at
campgrounds, golf courses, and ski slopes [97].
  • 97.  Shaw, A. F.; Cooper, C. S. 1973. The Interagency forage, conservation        and wildlife handbook. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University, Extension        Service. 205 p.  [5666]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Livestock: Kentucky bluegrass is highly palatable in early growth stages
and provides nutritious forage for all classes of livestock.  In the
West, it is often abundant in mountain grasslands, moist and dry
mountain meadows, aspen parkland, and open ponderosa pine forests where
it is eaten extensively by domestic sheep and cattle [15,20,49,60].
Mountain meadows dominated by Kentucky bluegrass may be relatively
limited in extent, but they are highly productive and thus contribute
substantial amounts of summer forage [75].  On mountain rangelands in
northeastern Oregon, Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most important
forage species in cattle and sheep summer diets [55,75].

In eastern North America, Kentucky bluegrass is considered one of the
best pasture grasses [100].  Due to limited precipitation in the West,
however, it provides only fair range forage because biomass production
is relatively low due to summer dormancy [115].  It is seldom seeded on
western ranges but may be used for pasture on moist and cool sites
[100,122].  In irrigated pastures, midsummer production can be
favorable, allowing cattle to gain more weight than if pastured on
orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) or smooth brome (Bromus inermis)
[100].

Kentucky bluegrass is seldom planted for hay production because yields
are generally low, and plants mature before other hay species are ready
to cut.  It is, however, often found in hay mixtures as an invader
[100].

Wildlife:  Regionally, Kentucky bluegrass can be an important part of
the diets of elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep [27,49].  On elk winter
range in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Kentucky bluegrass is
one of the most important grasses eaten by elk [54].  Kentucky bluegrass
is also an important part of fall and winter diets of elk in Wind Cave
National Park, South Dakota [126].  Kentucky bluegrass meadows found
along mountain streams are often preferred foraging areas of wild
ungulates [61].

Bluegrass leaves and seeds are eaten by numerous species of small
mammals and songbirds [72,85].  Bluegrass is often an important food of
the cottontail rabbit and wild turkey [21,39].  Prairie chickens eat
small amounts of seeds [21].  Kentucky-bluegrass-dominated grasslands
provide habitat for numerous species of small mammals [39,78].  In
Kentucky-bluegrass-dominated mountain meadows in Oregon the northern
pocket gopher, Columbian ground squirrel, and mice are a prevalent, and
thus these sites are also important to foraging raptors [62].

Mueggler and Campbell [82] suggest that the aspen/Kentucky bluegrass
community type in Utah is one of the poorest aspen community types for
value as wildlife habitat because of the lack of plant species
diversity.
  • 15.  Bowns, James E.; Bagley, Calvin F. 1986. Vegetation responses to        long-term sheep grazing on mountain ranges. Journal of Range Management.        39(5): 431-434.  [15584]
  • 20.  Clary, Warren P. 1975. Range management and its ecological basis in the        ponderosa pine type of Arizona: the status of our knowledge. Res. Pap.        RM-158. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p.        [4688]
  • 21.  Crawford, Hewlette S.; Kucera, Clair L.; Ehrenreich, John H. 1969. Ozark        range and wildlife plants. Agric. Handb. 356. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 236 p.  [18602]
  • 27.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 39.  George, Ronnie R.; Farris, Allen L.; Schwartz, Charles C.; [and others]
  • 49.  Hardy BBT Limited. 1989. Manual of plant species suitability for        reclamation in Alberta. 2d ed. Report No. RRTAC 89-4. Edmonton, AB:        Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council. 436 p.  [15460]
  • 54.  Hobbs, N. Thompson; Baker, Dan L.; Ellis, James E.; Swift, David M.        1981. Composition and quality of elk winter diets in Colorado. Journal        of Wildlife Management. 45(1): 156-171.  [7421]
  • 55.  Holechek, Jerry L.; Berry, Timothy J.; Vavra, Martin. 1987. Grazing        system influences on cattle performance on mountain range. Journal of        Range Management. 40(1): 55-59.  [15347]
  • 60.  Kauffman, J. Boone; Krueger, W. C.; Vavra, M. 1983. Effects of late        season cattle grazing on riparian plant communities. Journal of Range        Management. 36(6): 685-691.  [16965]
  • 61.  Kauffman, J. Boone; Krueger, W. C.; Vavra, M. 1985. Ecology and plant        communities of the riparian areas associated with Catherine Creek in        northeastern Oregon. Tech. Bull. 147. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State        University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 35 p.  [6174]
  • 62.  Kovalchik, Bernard L. 1987. Riparian zone associations: Deschutes,        Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests. R6 ECOL TP-279-87.        Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific        Northwest Region. 171 p.  [9632]
  • 72.  Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American        wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p.        [4021]
  • 75.  McInnis, Michael L.; Vavra, Martin. 1986. Summer diets of domestic sheep        grazing mountain meadows in northeastern Oregon. Northwest Science.        60(4): 265-2170.  [1604]
  • 78.  Medin, Dean E.; Clary, Warren P. 1989. Small mammal populations in a        grazed and ungrazed riparian habitat in Nevada. Res. Pap. INT-143.        Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain        Research Station. 6 p.  [10530]
  • 82.  Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1986. Aspen community        types of Utah. Res. Pap. INT-362. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 69 p.        [1714]
  • 85.  Ohlenbuseh, Paul D.; Hodges, Elizabeth P.; Pope, Susan. 1983. Range        grasses of Kansas. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Cooperative        Extension Service. 23 p.  [5316]
  • 100.  Smoliak, S.; Penney, D.; Harper, A. M.; Horricks, J. S. 1981. Alberta        forage manual. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Agriculture, Print Media Branch. 87        p.  [19538]
  • 115.  Vallentine, John F. 1961. Important Utah range grasses. Extension        Circular 281. Logan, UT: Utah State University. 48 p.  [2937]
  • 122.  Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful        in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington,        DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Office        of Biological Services, Western Energy and Land Use Team. 347 p.        Available from NTIS, Springfield, VA 22161; PB-83-167023.  [2458]
  • 126.  Wydeven, Adrian P.; Dahlgren, Robert B. 1985. Ungulate habitat        relationships in Wind Cave National Park. Journal of Wildlife        Management. 49(3): 805-813.  [57]

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Uses

Landscape: Kentucky bluegrass is a popular sod-forming grass that is used on golf courses, ski slopes, and campsites.

Livestock: Kentucky bluegrass is an important forage species for sheep and cattle. In the west, it is very abundant and frequently used as a forage crop. In the east, it is planted as a pasture grass. It is not usually used for hay, but it has been found as an invader of hay mixes.

Rehabilitation: Kentucky bluegrass is included in seed mixes that are used to revegetate roadbanks. It is a slow-growing plant, establishes in 2 to 3 years and forms a dense sod. It is not as good at stabilizing soil as its native counterparts.

Wildlife: Elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep eat Kentucky bluegrass. It is an important winter forage grass for these animals in the west. Cottontail rabbit, wild turkey, and prairie chickens consume the leaves and seeds of Kentucky bluegrass. In the mountain meadows of Oregon, the northern pocket gopher, mice, and Columbian ground squirrel feed off of the dominating Kentucky bluegrass. Therefore this is an important habitat for foraging raptors. Kentucky bluegrass also provides cover for small mammals and nongame birds.

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USDA NRCS National Plants Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Poa pratensis

"Kentucky bluegrass" redirects here. For the region of the state of Kentucky, see Bluegrass region. For genre of music, see Bluegrass music.

Poa pratensis, commonly known as Kentucky bluegrass, smooth meadow-grass, or common meadow-grass, is a perennial species of grass native to Europe, Asia, North America, and northern Africa.

General description[edit]

Poa pratensis forms a valuable pasture plant, characteristic of well-drained, fertile soil. It is also used for making lawns in parks and gardens and is common in cool moist climates like the northeastern United States. Poa is Greek for fodder.

The name Kentucky Bluegrass derives from its flower heads, which are blue when the plant is allowed to grow to its natural height of two to three feet.[1]

The rootstock is creeping, with runners (rhizomes). The broad, blunt leaves tend to spread at the base, forming close mats.

Poa pratensis is a herbaceous perennial plant 30–70 centimetres (12–28 in) tall. The leaves have boat-shaped tips, narrowly-linear, up to 20 centimetres (8 in) long and 3–5 millimetres (0.12–0.20 in) broad, smooth or slightly roughened, with a rounded to truncate ligule 1–2 millimetres (0.039–0.079 in) long. The conical panicle is 5–20 centimetres (2–8 in) long, with 3 to 5 branches in the basal whorls; the oval spikelets are 3–6 millimetres (0.12–0.24 in) long with 2 to 5 florets, and are purplish-green or grey. They are in flower from May to July, compared to Annual Meadowgrass (Poa annua) which is in flower for eight months of the year. Poa pratensis has a fairly prominent mid vein [center of the blade]

The ligule is extremely short and square ended, making a contrast with Annual Meadowgrass (Poa annua) and Rough Meadowgrass (Poa trivialis) in which it is silvery and pointed. The Kentucky bluegrass is a dark green compared to the apple green color of poa annua and poa trivialis.

Poa pratensis is the type species of the grass family Poaceae.

There are two ill-defined subspecies:

Wildlife value[edit]

This species is amongst the foodplants of the caterpillars of the Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) and Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) butterflies; the Common Sun Beetle (Amara aenea) (adults feed on the developing seeds), Eupelix cuspidata of the leafhopper family, and Myrmus miriformis, a grassbug (feeds on young blades and developing seeds).[2]

Cultivation and production[edit]

Since the 1950s and early 1960s, 90% of Kentucky Bluegrass seed in the United States has been produced on specialist farms in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Cultivars[edit]

Bella Bluegrass[edit]

Bella Bluegrass is a cultivar produced through the breeding program at the University of Nebraska. It is unique among bluegrasses for its vegetative reproduction, slow growth habit, a short leaf.[3]

Midnight[edit]

Very dark green, compact growth habit. 'Midnight' has stood out in National Turfgrass Evaluation Program trials for 20 years. It has the distinction of heading its own class of compact-type hybrid bluegrasses known as 'Midnight-type' (crosses with 'Midnight' as a parent).

Hybridization with Poa arachnifera[edit]

During the 1990s botanists began experimenting with hybrids of Poa pratensis and Texas bluegrass (P. arachnifera), with the goal of creating a drought and heat-resistant lawn grass.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Published: June 03, 1993 (1993-06-03). "What Makes Kentucky's Bluegrass Blue – New York Times – June 3, 1993". Query.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-12-23. 
  2. ^ Natural England description on website
  3. ^ Shearman; Robert C. ; et al. "US Patent Application Poa pratensis L. named 'NE-KYB-05-001'". US Patent Office. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

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Notes

Comments

Poa pratensis is a valuable species for soil stabilization and forage. Its taxonomy is complicated by the occurrence of facultative apomixis and an extensive polyploid series. It comprises many local and variable, widespread races. It is possible to recognize the widespread forms as subspecies, but there are many intermediates between them that do not fit well and we can only treat them as P. pratensis s.l. The type of P. florida appears to belong to this species, but has many more florets per spikelet (6–9) than is usual.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: When broadly treated as by Kartesz (1999), includes plants native in North America as well as plants introduced to North America from Eurasia ("Kentucky Bluegrass"). If narrowly treated as in Kartesz (1994), Poa pratensis is primarily if not exclusively Eurasian, widely cultivated worldwide and often persisting or escaping, although considered by some to be native in the more northern portions of North America.

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© NatureServe

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The currently accepted scientific name of Kentucky bluegrass is Poa
pratensis L. [124].

Kartesz and Kartesz [59] recognized the following subspecies:

P. p. ssp. agassizensis (Boivin & D. Love) Taylor & McBryde
P. p. ssp. alpigena (Fries) Hiitonen
P. p. ssp. angustifolia (L.) Gaudin
P. p. ssp. pratensis

Kentucky bluegrass is generally considered to be nonnative to North
America. Some botanists argue, however, that populations in remote
mountain meadows of the West may be native (see discussion by Cronquist
and others) [22].

Poa pratensis naturally hybridizes with several other species within
the genus, including P. secunda, P. arctica, P. alpina, P. nervosa, P.
reflexa, and P. palustris [124].
  • 124.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944]
  • 22.  Cronquist, Arthur; Holmgren, Arthur H.; Holmgren, Noel H.; [and others]
  • 59.  Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of        the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume        II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North        Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie        Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p.  [6954]

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Common Names

Kentucky bluegrass

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