SPECIES: Poa arida
Poa glaucifolia Scribn. & Williams [8,15]
NRCS PLANT CODE:
The scientific name of plains bluegrass is Poa arida Vasey (Poaceae). There are no infrataxa [8,10,11,24,15].
Plains bluegrass hybridizes with Sandberg bluegrass (P. secunda) . It intergrades with Sandberg bluegrass, mutton grass (P. fendleriana), and arctic bluegrass (P. arctica) [11,24,15,17].
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No legal status
Plains bluegrass occurs from British Columbia east to Manitoba and south to Minnesota, Texas, and New Mexico [8,10,12,24]. It is most common east of the Continental Divide [10,24].
Plants previously identified as plains bluegrass in Utah are probably arctic bluegrass [17,24], and plants previously identified as plains bluegrass in Arizona are probably mutton grass .
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS:
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 and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K058 Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K068 Wheatgrass-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K073 Northern cordgrass prairie
K074 Nebraska Sand Hills prairie
K076 Blackland prairie
K088 Fayette prairie
SAF COVER TYPES:
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
103 Green fescue
213 Alpine grassland
216 Montane meadows
301 Bluebunch wheat grass-blue grama
302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
410 Alpine rangeland
505 Grama-tobosa shrub
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
611 Blue grama-buffalograss
701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass
702 Black grama-alkali sacaton
703 Black grama-sideoats grama
704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass
705 Blue grama-galleta
706 Blue grama-sideoats grama
707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama
710 Galleta-alkali sacaton
720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)
721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
KS: Associates of plains bluegrass in mixed-grass prairie include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) , buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), prairie junegrass (Koelaria macrantha), red threeawn (Aristida purpurea), and sixweeks fescue (Vulpia octoflora) .
Plant associates in salt grass (Distichlis spicata) communities of Kansas include saltmarsh bulrush (Scirpus maritimus), spear saltbush (Atriplex patula), silverscale saltbush (A. argentea), Pursh seepweed (Suaeda calceoliformis), foxtail barley (Cristestion jubatum), summer-cypress (Kochia scoparia), and prostrate heath aster (Aster ericoides var. prostratus) .
SD: Plant associates in a salt grass-foxtail barley community of South Dakota include Nuttall's alkali grass (Puccinellia nuttalliana) and western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) .
ND: A depauperate plant community dominated by plains bluegrass has been described by Lura, Barker, and Nyren  in Range plant communities of the Central Grasslands Research Station in south central North Dakota. The plains grassland-salt grass-foxtail barley community occurs on poorly drained, saline soil. Plant community members include Nuttall's alkali grass, alkali muhly (Muhlenbergia asperifolia), glasswort (Salicornia rubra), and sandspurrey (Spergularia marina) .
WY: Associates of plains bluegrass in shortgrass prairie of Wyoming include blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), buffalo grass, western wheatgrass, pale agoseris (Agoseris glauca), lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), white thistle (Cirsium hookerianum), golden sedge (Carex aurea), thickspike wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus), plains reedgrass (Calamagrostis montanensis), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), plains muhly (M. cuspidata), and slender milkvetch (Astragalus gracilis) [1,3].
In alpine plant communities, associates include black sedge (Carex atriformis), shortstalk sedge (C. podocarpa), tufted hairgrass, purple reedgrass (Calamagrostis purpurascens), Thurber's fescue (Festuca thurberi), sheep fescue (F. ovina), American bistort (Polygonum bistortoides), and western yarrow (Achillea millefolium) .
AB: Plains bluegrass is at the northern limit of its range in extreme northern Alberta. Associates of plains bluegrass in dry grasslands of Woods Buffalo National Park include prairie junegrass, Canadian needlegrass (Stipa curtiseta), Richardson needlegrass (S. richardsonii), manybranched pepperweed (Ledpidium ramosissium), prairiesmoke (Geum triflorum), candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica), bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata), and northwest cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis) [20,22].
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Plains bluegrass is a minor species in most plant communities and is generally not important as forage . It has some value in early spring because it greens up before most associated grass species [18,29].
Plains bluegrass is palatable to domestic and wild ungulates, small mammals and birds, and upland game birds .
Cover value of plains bluegrass for small mammals, small birds, and upland game birds has been rated as fair .
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
OTHER USES AND VALUES:
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Plains bluegrass is drought tolerant but may decline with prolonged drought. Weaver  reported that plains bluegrass cover decreased in Kansas during the severe drought of 1933 to 1935.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Plains bluegrass is a native, cool-season perennial from 12 to 32 inches (30-80 cm) tall [8,18,29]. The panicle is compact to infrequently open. Spikelets have 3 to 7 perfect flowers. Plains bluegrass is shortly rhizomatous to nearly arhizomatous. Plants in the Intermountain region consistently have rhizomes, while some plants in the Great Plains may be nearly arhizomatous [8,10]. In Wyoming, rhizomes of plains bluegrass have been described as "short but abundant" .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:
Plains bluegrass establishes from seed  and by sprouting from rhizomes .
Plains bluegrass occurs on disturbed sites, pastures, meadows, prairies, piedmont valleys, foothills, and alpine sites [8,10,21,24].
Soils with plains bluegrass are often alkaline and/or sandy [8,10,15,21,24]. In South Dakota, plains bluegrass occurs on saline, sulfate-dominated soils near Stink and Bitter lakes in Codington and Day counties, respectively. Soil pH averages 7.9 on sites with plains bluegrass .
Unlike most bluegrasses (Poa spp.), plains bluegrass tolerates dry soils . Soil moisture is highly variable, however; plains bluegrass occurs on arid, well-drained soils and on wet, sometimes poorly drained soils [8,16,24]. At the northern edge of its range in extreme northern Alberta, plains bluegrass occurs only on well-drained south-facing slopes .
Plains bluegrass occurs from 3,500 to 9,500 feet (1,000-2900 m) elevation in Colorado .
|Flowering periods of plains bluegrass by geographic area|
|Geographic area||Flowering dates|
|Dakotas||early June |
|Great Plains||April to June |
|Intermountain region||June to August |
|New Mexico||May to July |
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Studies of the fire ecology and successional status of plains bluegrass are lacking. Most plains bluegrass probably sprout from rhizomes after top-kill by fire. Plants that are nearly arhizomatous probably tiller after top-kill. Ability of plains bluegrass to establish from seed after fire or other disturbance cannot be assessed until further data are available.
For information on fire regimes of ecosystems in which plains bluegrass occurs, see FEIS reviews on Bouteloua gracilis, Buchloe dactyloides, Distichlis spicata, and Hesperostipa comata.
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Fire probably top-kills plains bluegrass.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Plains bluegrass probably sprouts from rhizomes after top-kill by fire.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
1. Bayer, Randall J. 1992. Allozyme variation, genecology, and phytogeography of Antennaria arcuata (Asteraceae), a rare species from the Red Desert with small disjunct populations. American Journal of Botany. 79(8): 872-881. 
2. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. 
3. Costello, David F. 1944. Important species of the major forage types in Colorado and Wyoming. Ecological Monographs. 14: 107-134. 
4. Cronquist, Arthur; Holmgren, Arthur H.; Holmgren, Noel H.; [and others]. 1977. Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 6. The Monocotyledons. New York: Columbia University Press. 584 p. 
5. 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. 
6. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. 
7. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. 
8. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. 
9. Harrington, H. D. 1964. Manual of the plants of Colorado. 2d ed. Chicago: The Swallow Press Inc. 666 p. 
10. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. 
11. Kartesz, John T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II--thesaurus. 2nd ed. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 816 p. 
12. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. 
13. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. United States [Potential natural vegetation of the conterminous United States]. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 1:3,168,000; colored. 
14. Lippert, Robert D.; Hopkins, Harold H. 1950. Study of viable seeds in various habitats in mixed prairie. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science. 53(3): 355-364. 
15. Lockhart, Brian R.; Hodges, John D.; Guldin, James M. 1993. Development of advanced cherrybark oak reproduction following midstory & understory competition control & seedling clipping: 4-year results. In: Brissette, John C., ed. Proceedings, 7th biennial southern silvicultural research conference; 1992 November 17-19; Mobile, AL. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-93. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 109-116. 
16. 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. 
17. Lym, R. G. 1996. Effect of leafy spurge biotype and herbicide application on Aphthona spp. establishment. Leafy Spurge News. 18(1): 6. 
18. Nelson, Aven. 1898. The Red Desert of Wyoming and its forage resources. Bulletin No. 13. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Agrostology. 72 p. 
19. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. 
20. Redmann, Robert E.; Schwarz, Arthur G. 1986. Dry grassland plant communities in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 100(4): 526-532. 
21. Sarvis, J. T. 1941. Grazing investigations on the Northern Great Plains. Bull. 307. Fargo, ND: North Dakota Experiment Station. 110 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Northern Great Plains Field Station. 
22. Schwarz, Arthur G.; Thorpe, Jeffrey P.; Redmann, Robert E. 1988. Isolated grasslands in the boreal forest region of western Canada. In: Davis, Arnold; Stanford, Geoffrey, eds. The prairie: roots of our culture; foundation of our economy: Proceedings, 10th North American prairie conference; 1986 June 22-26; Denton, TX. Dallas, TX: Native Prairie Association of Texas: 01.09: 1-4. 
23. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. 
24. Soreng, Robert J. 1985. Poa L. in New Mexico, with a key to middle and southern Rocky Mountain species (Poaceae). The Great Basin Naturalist. 45(3): 395-422. 
25. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 10 p. 
26. Ungar, Irwin A. 1970. Species-soil relationships on sulfate dominated soils of South Dakota. The American Midland Naturalist. 83(2): 343-357. 
27. Ungar, Irwin A. 1974. Inland halophytes of the United States. In: Reinold, Robert J.; Queen, William H., eds. Ecology of halophytes. New York: Academic Press, Inc: 235-305. 
28. Weaver, J. E. 1968. Prairie plants and their environment: A fifty-year study in the Midwest. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 276 p. 
29. Williams, Thomas A. 1897. Grasses and forage plants of the Dakotas. Bulletin No. 6. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Agrostolgoy. 47 p. 
FEIS Home Page