Poa compressa - L.
Canada Bluegrass
Other Common Names: Canada bluegrass
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Poa compressa L. (TSN 41082)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.144119
Element Code: PMPOA4Z0K0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Poa
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Poa compressa
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (19Sep2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Alaska (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Hawaii (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA), Yukon Territory (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Despite its common name, Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa) is undisputedly considered to be a European introduction (Hitchcock 1950, USDA 1948, Fernald 1950, Gleason and Cronquist 1953). Its North American range appears to be the same as that of Poa pratensis.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Despite its common name, Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa) is undisputedly considered to be a European introduction (Hitchcock 1950, USDA 1948, Fernald 1950, Gleason and Cronquist 1953). Its North American range appears to be the same as that of Poa pratensis.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AKexotic, ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, GA, HIexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, LBexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, NTexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic, YTexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Poa compressa is a shallowly rooted, rhizomatous perennial grass.
Technical Description: The wiry, 2-edged culms can reach 80 cm in height (Great Plains Flora Assoc. 1986). The keeled sheaths are closed only at the base with truncate ligules .7 to 2 mm long (Great Plains Flora Assoc. 1986). The leaves are 1 to 4 mm wide and up to 10 cm tall (Hitchcock 1950, Gleason and Cronquist 1953). The narrow, compact inflorescences are distinguished by paired branches (Gleason and Cronquist 1953, Fernald 1950). The spikelets are 3-6 flowered with obscurely-nerved lemmas with strongly flaring apices (Gleason and Cronquist 1953, Van der Berg et al. 1979).
Diagnostic Characteristics: 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).

Poa compressa is visually separated from Poa pratensis by its blue-green foliage, distinctly flat culms and narrow compact inflorescence (Gleason and Cronquist 1953, USDA 1948). Bases of the strongly keeled lemmas are less conspicuously cobwebby than on Poa pratensis (Gleason and Cronquist 1953).

Duration: PERENNIAL
Palustrine Habitat(s): SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Old field
Habitat Comments: Poa compressa prefers "poor" (Hitchcock 1950) and acid soils (Gleason and Cronquist 1953) and is most prevalent on drier sites (USDA 1948, W. Smith pers. comm., Kline pers. comm.).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Unknown
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Poa compressa is widespread, occurring in every U.S. state except Florida. Poa compressa often occurs in disturbed areas and seems to require disturbance to establish. However, it also occurs in communities of conservation concern including prairies, alvar grasslands, granite barrens, and ridgetop woodlands. More information about its impact on native species is needed. Apparently, it has more impacts in the northern portion of its range. Poa compressa has aggressive reproductive characters and may crowd out native species. It has creeping rhizomes and can forms large colonies. It can spread very quickly because it grows early in the season when most other species are dormant . The presence of Poa compressa may also affect the community composition due to its response to various fire regimes. Poa compressa is often considered with Poa pratensis so it can be difficult to determine the impact of Poa compressa alone in some areas. Control is apparently difficult. Eradication of bluegrass in northern mixed prairies of the midwest or wet meadows of the Pacific Northwest may be infeasible. Reduction of vigor and containment of spread may be the only realistic management goals. More information is needed, especially from the southern portion of its range.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Medium
I-Rank Review Date: 06Dec2005
Evaluator: Tomaino, A., L. Oliver (rev. 2005)
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to Europe (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).

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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Established outside cultivation in the U.S. (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Occurs in open, usually dry, soil (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). In Michigan, it occurs in old fields, roadsides, waste ground, rocky or sandy woods, and openings, usually in dry places but sometimes on shores and in damp woods (Voss 1972).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Fires in the dormant season favor Poa compressa, a cool season grass (Uchytil 1993). Fires in the late spring when Poa compressa is growing have a negative impact on Poa compressa and favor warm season grasses (Uchytil 1993). The presence of Poa compressa may affect the community composition due to its response to various fire regimes.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Medium/Low significance
Comments: It may crowd out native species when it occurs in dense clumps (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). It has creeping rhizomes and forms large colonies (Voss 1972). It can spread very quickly because it grows early in the season when most other species are dormant (WI DNR 2004).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High/Moderate significance
Comments: It may crowd out native species when it occurs in dense clumps (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). It has creeping rhizomes and forms large colonies (Voss 1972). It can spread very quickly because it grows early in the season when most other species are dormant (WI DNR 2004).

In one study that examined the impacts of non-native species on tall grass prairies Poa compressa was considered one of the species that occurred the most frequently and in the greatest abundance in the study site (Cully et al. 2003). This species along with others examined in the study were introduced into the United States for forage and landscaping uses. Further, it is suggested in the study that early season native species such as leguminous forbs and perennial grasses could be impacted severly by the invasion of non-native species (Cully et al. 2003).

Poa compressa is often considered with Poa pratensis by researchers and managers so it can be difficult to determine the impact of Poa compressa alone.


4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Poa compressa is an aggressive weed in tall grass prairies in the midwest and this grass and other non-natives impact leguminous forbs that occur in the tall grass prairies. Specifically species in the genera Psoralea, Dalea, Dichanthelium and Koeleria cristata are affected most greatly by non-native species includeing P. compressa ( Cully et al. 2003)

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Moderate significance
Comments: It occurs in northern mixed prairies (Sather 1996). Poa compressa also occurs in alvar grasslands, granite barrens, and open woodlands (Midwestern and Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe). These communities are of conservation significance. It also occurs in conifer forest, mixed forest, sagebrush, chaparral, pinyon-juniper, mountain grasslands, mountain meadows, and plains grasslands (Uchytil 1993). These communities may also be of conservation significance.

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Occurs in every U.S. state except Florida (Kartesz 1999). In Hawaii, it has only been collected once (Wagner et al. 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Medium/Low significance
Comments: In New England, Poa compressa does not currently pose a large threat to undisturbed natural areas however it does have the potential to be a nuisance species in areas that are recovering from disturbance and may crowd out native species when it occurs in dense clumps (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). In Kentucky, it is listed as a lesser threat which is defined as an exotic plant species that seems to principally spread and remain in disturbed corridors and does not readily invade natural areas (Kentucky EPPC 2000). In Virginia, it is considered a moderately invasive species which is defined as one that has minor influence on ecosystem processes, alters plant community composition, affects community structure in at least one layer, may become dominant in the understory layer without threatening all species found in the community, and requires a minor disturbance to become established (VNPS and VDCR 2003). In Wisconsin, it is considered ecologically invasive (Hoffman and Kearns 1997).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Occurs in every U.S. state except Florida (Kartesz 1999). Presumeably, present in more than half of the biogeographic units in the U.S. (inferred from TNC 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: It occurs in northern mixed prairies (Sather 1996). It also occurs in alvar grasslands, granite barrens, and open woodlands (Midwestern and Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe). In New England, it occurs in abandoned fields, abandoned gravel pits, agricultural fields, edges, open disturbed areas, pastures, roadsides, vacant lots, yards, and gardens (Mehrhoff ry al. 2003). In Michigan, it occurs in old fields, roadsides, waste ground, rocky or sandy woods, and openings, usually in dry places but sometimes on shores and in damp woods (Voss 1972). In California, it occurs in moist, often disturbed low ground (Baldwin et al. 2004). It also occurs in conifer forest, mixed forest, sagebrush, chaparral, pinyon-juniper, mountain grasslands, mountain meadows, and plains grasslands (Uchytil 1993).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: No evidence that this species is increasing rapidly but Poa compressa is primarily a colonizer of disturbed sites (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Disturbed sites are not decreasing, therefore it is assumed to be not declining.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Insignificant
Comments: Occurs in every U.S. state except Florida (Kartesz 1999). Presumeably, it occupies most of its potential range in the U.S. (inferred from USDA 1990).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Planted for erosion control, livestock forage (NRCS 2001). It is dispersed by wind and also by animals (Mehrhoff et al. 2003).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High/Low significance
Comments: Poa compressa is primarily a colonizer of disturbed sites (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Disturbed sites are not decreasing, therefore it is assumed to be not stable or declining.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Low significance
Comments: Poa compressa is primarily a colonizer of disturbed sites (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). It is unable to compete with other grasses on good soils (Uchytil 1993).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: In Ontario it occurs in pastures (Dore and McNeil 1980). In British Columbia, it occurs in dry to moist areas, roadsides, and meadows, in the lowland and montane zones (Douglas et al. 2001). These are habitats it has already invaded in the region of interest.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Reproduces both by seed and vegetatively (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Has creeping rhizomes and forms large colonies (Voss 1972). It can spread very quickly because it grows early in the season when most other species are dormant (WI DNR 2004). Seeds may remain viable in the soil for more than five years (APRS Implementation Team 2001). The number of seeds produced per plant may be more than 1000 or less than 1000 (APRS Implementation Team 2001). Poa compressa increases with grazing (Sather 1996).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Medium

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Late spring burning can be used to control Poa compressa (Uchytil 1993). Burning can reduce bluegrass by more than 90% but it is rarely 100% effective (WI DNR 2004). Herbicides are not recommended to control bluegrass on grasslands or savannas where there are native prairie plants but they may be used in severely degraded areas or where prairie restoration is beginning (WI DNR 2004). Eradication of bluegrass in northern mixed prairies of the midwest or wet meadows of the Pacific Northwest may be infesaible; reduction of vigor and containment of spread may be the only realistic management goals (Sather 1996). Poa compressa increases with grazing, however, removal of grazing pressure alone is not sufficient to shift the community back to native species (Sather 1996). Seeds may remain viable in the soil for more than five years (APRS Implementation Team 2001).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Seeds may remain viable in the soil for more than five years (APRS Implementation Team 2001).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Moderate significance
Comments: There has been very little attention to the side effects of Poa compressa management on native prairie forb species (Sather 1996), but NRCS (2001) notes that the side effects of control measures would cause moderate effects on other plants.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High significance
Comments: Poa compressa is considered to be good forage for cattle, horses, and sheep (Uchytil 1993). Accessibility will be an issue is some areas.

Other Considerations: Most material is believed to be introduced but some native stands probably exist (Cronquist et al. 1977).
Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Nov1987
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): N. SATHER, MRO

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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