Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Calamagrostis canadensis


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Calamagrostis canadensis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : CALCAN SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : CACA4 COMMON NAMES : bluejoint reedgrass bluejoint meadow pinegrass Canadian reedgrass marsh pinegrass marsh reedgrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for bluejoint reedgrass is Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) Beauv. This is an exceedingly variable species with one subspecies and eleven varieties described. Recognized subspecies and varieties are as follows [1,12,21,23,39]: Calamagrostis canadensis subsp. langsdorffi (Link) Hult. Calamagrostis canadensis var. canadensis (Michx.) Beauv. Calamagrostis canadensis var. robusta Vasey Calamagrostis canadensis var. acuminata Vasey Calamagrostis canadensis var. pallida (Vasey & Scriber) Stebbins Calamagrostis canadensis var. macouniana (Vasey) Stebbins Calamagrostis canadensis var. typicana Stebbins Calamagrostis canadensis var. imberbis (Stebbins) C.Hitchc. Calamagrostis canadensis var. lactea (W.J. Beal.) C.Hitchc. Calamagrostis canadensis var. langsdorfii (Link) Inman Calamagrostis canadensis var. scabra (J.Presl.) A.Hitchc. Calamagrostis canadensis var. arcta Stebbins. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Bluejoint reedgrass is the most common and widespread Calamagrostis species in North America [38].  It occurs throughout the boreal and temperate regions.  Bluejoint reedgrass is common in the subarctic from Alaska to Quebec, and extends south to all but the southeastern United States [16,17,38]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES41  Wet grasslands    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AK  AZ  CA  CO  CT  DE  HI  ID  IL  IN      IA  KS  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MO  MT      NE  NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OR      PA  RI  SD  TN  UT  VA  VT  WA  WV  WI      WY  AB  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON      PE  PQ  SK  YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     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 KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K007  Red fir forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K010  Ponderosa shrub - forest    K011  Western ponderosa pine    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland    K030  California oakwoods    K033  Chaparral    K034  Montane chaparral    K037  Mountain mahogany - oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K049  Tules marshes    K052  Alpine meadows and barren    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass    K065  Grama - buffalograss    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlestem    K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss    K069  Bluestem - grama prairie    K074  Bluestem prairie    K081  Oak savanna    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K094  Conifer bog    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K104  Appalacian oak forest    K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest SAF COVER TYPES :     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce - tamarack     16  Aspen     18  Paper birch     21  Eastern white pine     22  White pine - hemlock     37  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     38  Tamarack     68  Mesquite    107  White spruce    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    204  Black spruce    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    208  Whitebark pine    212  Western Larch    215  Western white pine    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer    246  California black oak    250  Blue oak - Digger pine    251  White spruce - aspen    252  Paper birch    253  Black spruce - white spruce    254  Black spruce - paper birch    255  California coast live oak    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Bluejoint reedgrass occurs as an understory dominant or codominant in many early seral to climax riparian and cool, moist forest communities. Published classifications listing bluejoint reedgrass as a dominant or codominant in habitat types (hts), dominance types (dts), community types (cts), riparian site types (rst), and plant associations (pas) are listed below: Area            Classification                  Authority AK              general veg. pas                Viereck & Dyress 1980 AK: interior    postfire forest cts             Foote 1983 nw AK           forest veg. cts                 Hanson 1953 CO              forest hts                      Arno & Presby 1977 CO              hts                             Powell 1988 w CO            riparian veg. cts               Baker 1989a nw CO           general veg. pas                Baker & Kennedy 1985 CO: Arapaho &   forest hts                      Hess & Alexander 1986    Roosevelt NF    CO: Gunnison &  forest hts                      Komarkova & others 1988  Uncompahgre NF                                 c ID            riparian cts, hts               Tuhy & Jensen 1982 n ID            forest cts, hts                 Cooper & others 1991 e ID, w WY      forest hts                      Steele & others 1983 e ID, w WY      riparian cts                    Youngblood & others 1985 MT              riparian dts.                   Hansen & others 1988 MT              forest hts                      Pfister & others 1977 c,e MT          riparian veg. rst., cts, hts    Hansen & others 1989 nw MT           riparian cts                    Boggs & others 1990 sw MT           riparian veg. rst, cts, hts     Hansen & others 1989 wc MT           wetland cts                     Pierce & Johnson 1986 UT: Uinta Mt.   forest hts                      Henderson & other 1977 n UT            forest hts                      Mauk & Henderson 1984 UT, se ID       riparian cts                    Padgett & others 1989 WY              riparian veg. rst               Olson & Gerhart 1982 WY: c YELL      riparian hts                    Mattson 1984 PQ: Saint       general veg. pas                Darsereau 1957 Lawrence Valley    Yukon           veg. types                      Stanek & others 1981


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Bluejoint reedgrass furnishes a large amount of forage for many big game species and livestock [16,18,38].  Occasionally it occupies considerable areas to the exclusion of other native grasses [26].  Under such conditions it yields a large amount of quality hay for livestock [26]. This grass is important forage for livestock in Alaska and is an important component in the diet of bison herds in the Slave River lowland, Northwest Territories, Canada [20].  It is grazed lightly by deer but makes up a major part of the diet of elk in the winter [25,42]. PALATABILITY : Bluejoint reedgrass is most palatable when young and succulent. Since it often grows in wet habitats, use by livestock is often limited until late in the season when the grass is tough [18,38]. The relish and degree of use shown by wildlife species for bluejoint reedgrass in several western states has been rated as follows [8]:                          MT      ND      UT      WY Pronghorn               ----    Poor    Poor    ---- Elk                     Fair    ----    Fair    ---- Mule deer               Poor    Poor    Fair    ---- White-tailed deer       Poor    Poor    ----    ---- Small mammals           ----    ----    Fair    Fair Small nongame birds     ----    ----    Fair    Fair Upland game birds       ----    ----    Poor    Poor Waterfowl               ----    Fair    Poor    Fair                NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Bluejoint reedgrass has been rated as fair in energy value and poor in protein value [8,15].  In July of 1974, nutrient and mineral composition of this grass on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula were as follows [29]:          IVDMD(%)*                  Fiber %                   Protein %  Moose    Dairy Cow    Cell walls   ADF*   Lignin         48.1      55.9         69.8       37.8    3.7            9.8  * IVDMD=in vitro dry-matter digestibility  * ADF=acid detergent fiber       macronutrients (ppm)                  micronutrients (ppm)   Ca       K        Mg      Na           Cu     Fe     Mn     Zn   617.0    9799.0  1481.0   74.0         22.3   58.0   30.9   21.6 COVER VALUE : The degree to which bluejoint reedgrass provides environmental protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species has been rated as follows [8]:                          MT      ND      UT      WY Pronghorn               ----    ----    Poor    Poor            Elk                     ----    ----    Poor    ---- Mule deer               ----    Fair    Poor    ---- White-tailed deer       ----    Good    ----    ---- Small mammals           Poor    ----    Fair    Fair Small nongame birds     Poor    ----    Fair    Good Upland game birds       Poor    ----    Fair    Fair Waterfowl               Good    Fair    Fair    Fair VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : The rhizomatous nature of bluejoint reedgrass helps provide streambank stability.  This is particularly important on higher gradient streams where scouring by seasonal flooding is possible [4].  This grass is a vigorous invader of oil spill sites in the Northwest Territories, Canada, and recovers rapidly after spills [16].  Bluejoint reedgrass was evaluated for revegetation in tundra and northern boreal forest sites. It established slowly, but by the end of the growing season, cover and biomass production equaled or exceeded those of commercial varieties. Seed of bluejoint reedgrass has been collected for revegetation trials in Alberta [16]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Grazing:  Bluejoint reedgrass is sensitive to overgrazing.  Yields decreased by 15 to 20 percent when bluejoint reedgrass was cut two to four times during the growing the season, by 35 to 45 percent when cut five to six times, and about 70 percent when cut seven times, when compared to plots cut once at the end of the growing season [16]. Grazing should be restricted when soils are moist, especially along streams where bank sloughing can occur [13].  Livestock use should be timed according to both the drying of soil surface and the maturation of the seedheads.  Livestock should be removed when 40 percent or less utilization of herbaceous forage is obtained [13]. Insect and disease:  Some bluejoint strains are susceptible to white top.  This condition is caused by insect or fungal damage of the lower culms.  Bluejoint, in general, is not susceptible to snow mold [16]. Site competitor:  Bluejoint reedgrass is a serious competitor of regeneration of conifer seedlings on disturbed moist sites.  Bluejoint reedgrass often produces a thick, "mulch" of litter which insulates the soil surface, causing the soil temperature to decrease.  Cold soils could partially explain the poor growth of conifer seedlings that often occurs after planting in bluejoint-reedgrass-dominated sites [19]. Control:  Bluejoint reedgrass can be controlled with glyphosate applied after flowering and about the same time as aboveground senescence begins [5].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Bluejoint reedgrass is a sod-forming, native, perennial, cool-season grass [5,12,16,36].  Its blades are numerous and generally obtain a height of 2 to 4 feet (60-120 cm) [12,16].  In Alaska, this grass has been known to reach heights of up to 6.5 feet (200 cm) within 6 weeks [16].  This grass is long-lived.  Well-developed fields may persist for as long as 100 years [16].  Creeping underground rhizomes are extensive and fibrous roots are shallow [16,32,36,38]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :    Hemicryptophyte    Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual Reproduction:  Bluejoint reedgrass flowers are wind pollinated. Prolific flowering, however, occurs only in wetlands and recently disturbed sites [28].  The winged seeds are very lightweight and easily wind-borne [16,28].  Seed yields are low, but seed can remain viable in the soil for up to 5 years [6,16].  Seeds collected near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, had a germination rate of 90 percent at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 deg C).  Seedling vigor was rated as moderate [3,16]. Vegetative Reproduction:  Bluejoint reedgrass can also reproduce vegetatively by rhizomes [6,16,28,33,38].  This grass is capable of producing an extensive network of rhizomes during a single growing season.  Small sections (two or more internodes) of several rhizomes can produce shoots and establish new clones [28,33]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Bluejoint reedgrass occurs in a wide range of habitats from lowland wet sites, semishaded woodlands, to windswept alpine ridges [16,18]. It extends from sea level in the north and northwest to elevations of over 12,000 feet (3,658 m) near the southern limit of its range in New Mexico [18,38].  It prefers moist sites but can survive in a wide range of moisture regimes [16].  This grass, however, cannot germinate under drought conditions, although it is very drought resistant once established [16]. Soils:  Bluejoint reedgrass occupies sites with imperfectly to moderately well-drained soils.  It is found on both peat and mineral soils, but most often on peat, and is adapted to a wide range of soil textures.  This grass is tolerant of extremely acidic soils, with pH values as low as 3.5, and is moderately tolerant of saline soils [8,16,19]. Plant associates:  Bluejoint reedgrass is commonly associated with the following species:  Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), Geyer willow (Salix geyeriana), booth willow (Salix boothii), wolf's willow (Salix wolfii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) [13,14,15,30,31,40,41]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Bluejoint reedgrass is a common constituent in a number of seral and climax communities.  A combination of sexual and vegetative reproduction allows this grass to persist throughout the successional continuum [4]. It is an aggressive ground residual colonizer and initial off-site colonizer in early seral communities.  Once established, a very dense stand of bluejoint reedgrass may persist almost indefinitely, severely limiting the invasion of woody species [5].  In some mid-seral to climax wetland forest communities and forest communities having high water tables, bluejoint reedgrass occurs as a dominant or codominant understory species [13,14,15,31,40]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : In general, bluejoint reedgrass leaf and culm production occurs from early May to mid-June followed by significant vegetative growth of shoot biomass [5,19].  By mid-June flowering heads begin to emerge and by late June to early July flowering begins [5,19].  Flowering peaks from late June to mid-July.  Aboveground senescence begins mid to late August [5,19].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Bluejoint reedgrass sprouts from on-site surviving rhizomes following fire [7,28,35,37].  It can also establish on burned sites by wind-dispersed seeds [7]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire will kill aboveground vegetation of bluejoint reedgrass [35,37]. Severe fires will also kill belowground rhizomes [35,37]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : Under droughty conditions dead shoots of bluejoint reedgrass exhibit low moisture content [20,37].  In small experimental fires in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, dead litter sustained combustion, but the fire merely burned around the live material [37]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Following low-severity fires, bluejoint reedgrass will typically sprout from on-site surviving rhizomes.  Buried or wind-dispersed seeds may be the primary source of plant establishment on severely burned sites [28,37]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Light surface burning tends to increase the abundance of bluejoint reedgrass [9,35,40].  Following a low-severity burn in a trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) woodland in southern Ontario, this species' frequency was twice as high on burned areas.  The abundance of bluejoint reedgrass 4 months after the fires in 1973 was four times greater than in the control areas and two times greater than in areas burned in 1972 [35]. Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and the following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of many plant species, including bluejoint reedgrass: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : When grazing pressure is light, litter accumulates rapidly [37]. Low-intensity fires can be used to remove this litter and improve forage quality [22].  Because of wet conditions in the spring and summer, successful burning of these communities is limited to the drier fall period [4].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
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