Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Poa compressa


SPECIES: Poa compressa
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1993. Poa compressa. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : POACOM SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : POCO COMMON NAMES : Canada bluegrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Canada bluegrass is Poa compressa L. [10,33]. There are no recognized varieties or subspecies. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Poa compressa
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : In North America, Canada bluegrass is distributed from Newfoundland to Alaska, and south throughout most of the United States.  Hitchcock [16] lists Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California as the southern extent of its range. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES42  Annual grasslands STATES :      AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  GA  HI  ID      IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN      MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY  NC  ND      OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN  UT  VT      VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC  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 :    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K011 Western ponderosa forest    K012 Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K030  California oakwoods    K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K047  Fescue - oatgrass    K048  California steppe    K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass    K052  Alpine meadows and barren    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass    K074  Bluestem prairie    K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie    K081  Oak savanna    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K099  Maple - basswood forest    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES :     15  Red pine     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     42  Bur oak     52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak    107  White spruce    110  Black oak    210  Interior Douglas-fir    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    220  Rocky Mountain juniper    227  Western redcedar - western hemlock    235  Cottonwood - willow    236  Bur oak    237  Interior ponderosa pine    238  Western juniper    239  Pinyon - juniper SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Poa compressa
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Canada bluegrass is good forage for cattle, horses, and sheep [3,25]. It has favorable curing properties; horses pastured on Canada bluegrass in the autumn and early winter maintain their condition [12].  In South Dakota it is seldom abundant enough to be a principal forage but is important to livestock because of its wide distribution [18]. In the Rocky Mountains, Canada bluegrass may be a valuable winter, spring, and fall forage for elk [20].  Mule deer consume it lightly in the spring [21]. Bluegrass leaves and seeds are eaten by numerous species of small mammals and songbirds, and may form an important part of the diet of the cottontail rabbit and wild turkey [3,22].  Prairie chickens eat small amounts of the seeds [3]. PALATABILITY : Canada bluegrass is palatable to livestock from early spring until late fall [12].  It is most palatable in spring and fall when it is green and succulent.  Because it matures later than Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and is drought tolerant, it remains relatively palatable during the summer [27]. Livestock and wildlife use of Canada bluegrass in western states is rated as follows [6]:                          CO      MT      ND      UT      WY Cattle                  good    good    good    good    good Sheep                   good    good    good    good    good Horses                  good    good    good    good    good Pronghorn               ----    ----    ----    good    good Elk                     ----    fair    ----    good    good Mule deer               ----    poor    ----    good    good White-tailed deer       ----    poor    ----    ----    good Small mammals           ----    ----    ----    good    good Small nongame birds     ----    ----    ----    good    good Upland game birds       ----    ----    ----    fair    good Waterfowl               ----    ----    ----    fair    fair NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Early growth stages of Canada bluegrass are nutritious.  The National Academy of Sciences [23] reported the following nutritional information for fresh aerial parts of immature (before inflorescence emergence) Canada bluegrass (percentage of dry matter):         Ash 9.1         Crude fiber 25.5         Ether extract 3.7         N-free extract 43         Protein (N X 6.25) 18.7 COVER VALUE : Canada bluegrass provides fair to good "environmental protection" for upland game birds, waterfowl, nongame birds, and small mammals [6]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Canada bluegrass is often used for cover and erosion control on roadsides, road cuts and fills, borrow pits, dam sites, and recreational areas.  It is often seeded with legume mixtures for revegetation of mined areas.  It is often slow to establish but once established provides good cover and long-term growth.  The performance of seeded Canada bluegrass in mined-land reclamation has been summarized [12]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Canada bluegrass is classed as an invader of overgrazed rangelands [31]. It is generally not recommended for seeding as a pasture grass because of its low productivity, but locally it may be useful as pasture on poor soils [27,33].  It is resistant to grazing and trampling but may be slow to recover from overgrazing [27].


SPECIES: Poa compressa
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Canada bluegrass is an introduced, perennial, cool-season, erect, sod-forming grass.  Culms are solitary or loosely tufted, flattened, and 10 to 24 inches (25-60 cm) tall.  The inflorescence is a compressed panicle [10,18,33] Canada bluegrass has a "dense creeping root system" and "long rhizomes" but does not form as dense a sod as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) [12,18,32]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Canada bluegrass reproduces by both seed and rhizomes [30].  There are 2.5 million cleaned seeds per pound (5.5 million/kg).  Seeds require light for germination, and germinate best at temperatures fluctuating between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 30 deg C).  Germinative capacity is 75 to 80 percent [8]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Canada bluegrass is unable to compete with other grasses on good soils and generally develops best on soils of low fertility or poor drainage [12,25].  It has moderate drought and salinity tolerances but is not shade tolerant [8,12,30].  It grows about anywhere Kentucky bluegrass grows but only achieves dominance on soils that are too acid, droughty, or nutrient-deficient for Kentucky bluegrass dominance [18].  It grows on disturbed sites in innumerable habitats across North America.  In the Pacific Northwest, Canada bluegrass is commonly found in association with wheatgrasses (Agropyron spp.) and hairgrasses (Deshampsia spp.), and often grows in pure stands on poor soils [30]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species Canada bluegrass is an early colonizer of disturbed soils [18]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Although a cool-season species, Canada bluegrass matures later than Kentucky bluegrass, and has little fall regrowth [18]. Flowering time in western states is as follows [6]: Colorado - June to August Montana - June to August North Dakota - June to July Wyoming - June to August


SPECIES: Poa compressa
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : During grassland fires, the fire front passes quickly and temperatures 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the soil surface rise very little [5].  Located a couple of inches below the soil surface, Canada 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). Information regarding the importance that seedling establishment plays in Canada bluegrass immediate postfire recovery was not found in the literature.  Postfire growth is assumed to be primarily due to rhizome survival. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil


SPECIES: Poa compressa
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : 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 [5]. Late spring fires, after plants have been growing for about a month or more, appear to be the most damaging to Canada bluegrass. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Season of burning and frequency of burning greatly influence Canada bluegrass postfire recovery.  Dormant-season fires favor Canada bluegrass, and biomass and density may increase during postfire year 1. Late spring burning, when plants are actively growing, reduces biomass and density during postfire year 1, but biomass and density may return to preburn levels within 1 or 2 years.  Thus Canada bluegrass often recovers within 1 or 2 years after a single late spring fire, but density and biomass are progressively reduced if burned annually or biennially in late spring. In abandoned fields in southern Wisconsin, Canada bluegrass flowering stem density was reduced 50 percent when burned annually in May for 5 years.  Conversely, flowering stem density increased 170 and 440 percent following 5 years of annual burning in March or October, respectively [4].  A similar study in southern Wisconsin found that 3 years of annual burning in mid-May reduced Canada and Kentucky bluegrass flowering stem density by 70 percent, while late March or early April burning had little affect on flowering [14]. In a reconstructed tallgrass prairie in Illinois, bluegrass (Poa compressa and P. pratensis combined) percent relative biomass decreased as fire frequency increased in two communities as follows [11]:                                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 *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 **sampled at the end of the 1962 growing season In oak (Quercus spp.) woods and goldenrod (Solidago spp.) fields accidently burned between April 6 and May 2 in south-central New York, Canada bluegrass frequency increased from 6 to 17 percent and 56 to 81 percent, respectively, 10 to 26 months after burning [28]. After early May prescribed burning in seral brushfields in northern Idaho, Canada bluegrass recovered rapidly on lightly burned plots. During the first postfire growing season, it produced the bulk of grass biomass on lightly burned plots, which was 135 pounds per acre (151 kg/ha).  In comparison, grass production on heavily burned and control plots averaged only 0.7 and 10.2 pounds per acre (0.8 and 11.4 kg/ha), respectively [17]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including Canada bluegrass, that was not available when this species review was written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Annual or biennial late spring burning can be used to control Canada 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 Canada 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 [15].


SPECIES: Poa compressa
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A comparison of stand        structure and fire history in two black oak woodlands in northwestern        Indiana. Botanical Gazette. 145(2): 222-228.  [8721] 14.  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] 15.  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] 16.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.].  [1165] 17.  Hooker, Larry L.; Tisdale, E. W. 1974. Effects of prescribed burning on        a seral brush community in northern Idaho. Station Paper No. 14. Moscow,        ID: University of Idaho, Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station.        11 p.  [4131] 18.  Johnson, James R.; Nichols, James T. 1970. Plants of South Dakota        grasslands: A photographic study. Bull. 566. Brookings, SD: South Dakota        State University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 163 p.  [18483] 19.  Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation        of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York:        American Geographical Society. 77 p.  [1384] 20.  Kufeld, Roland C. 1973. Foods eaten by the Rocky Mountain elk. Journal        of Range Management. 26(2): 106-113.  [1385] 21.  Kufeld, Roland C.; Wallmo, O. C.; Feddema, Charles. 1973. Foods of the        Rocky Mountain mule deer. Res. Pap. RM-111. Fort Collins, CO: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and        Range Experiment Station. 31 p.  [1387] 22.  Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American        wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p.        [4021] 23.  National Academy of Sciences. 1971. Atlas of nutritional data on United        States and Canadian feeds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.        772 p.  [1731] 24.  Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant        geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p.  [2843] 25.  Sampson, Arthur W.; Chase, Agnes; Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. California        grasslands and range forage grasses. Bull. 724. Berkeley, CA: University        of California College of Agriculture, California Agricultural Experiment        Station. 125 p.  [2052] 26.  Scheiner, Samuel M. 1988. The seed bank and above-ground vegetation in        an upland pine-hardwood succession. Michigan Botanist. 27(4): 99-106.        [12396] 27.  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] 28.  Swan, Frederick R., Jr. 1970. Post-fire response of four plant        communities in south-central New York state. Ecology. 51(6): 1074-1082.        [3446] 29.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982.        National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names.        SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p.  [11573] 30.  Van Dyne, George M. 1958. 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