Wood Bluegrass (Poa nemoralis) 

Wood Bluegrass (Poa nemoralis)

Wood Bluegrass (Poa nemoralis), also known as Wood Meadow Grass,  is a perennial in the Grass Family (Poaceae). This grass is common around French Hill Pond. The common name implies that this grass is found in wooded areas, which is often true. But, it more often is found in clearings around French Hill Pond, along roadsides and around the shore of the pond. Therefore, it is classified as a Field Plant for the purposes of this website. The family and genus name is from the ancient Greek for "fodder," that is, "grass." The species name is from the Latin for "growing in the woods."

The leaves (blades) of this plant are dark green, lance-shaped and much longer than wide. The stems (called "culms") topped by the flower cluster are from 12 to 32 inches (30 to 80 centimeters) long and turn from green to light brown at maturity. Some leaves are attached to the flowering stems in sheaths that wrap the stem for about 1/10th of the leaf length. The following photograph shows a leaf wrapped around a stem.

Wood Bluegrass Stem and Leaf

The next photograph shows the same leaf pulled away from the stem. The break in the leaf is the point at which it was attached to the stem. Clearly, the leaf is wrapped around the stem a considerable distance.

Stem and Leaf Separated

The leaves are from 1/24 to 1/8 inch ( 1 to 3 millimeters) wide. The leaves are in dense clumps and are shorter than the stems.

Wood Bluegrass Clump

The flower consists of florets; small, individual flowers; encased in bracts called "lemmas." These lemmas are attached to the long stem by a short stem. The clusters of florets can be close to one another as shown in the photograph at the top of this page or spread out as shown in the photograph below. The flowers are smaller than 1/24 inch (1 millimeter) and change from green to light brown at maturity.

Wood Bluegrass Flower Head

The fruits are many simple seeds that make this plant very prolific. The photograph below shows a panicle, a collection of flowers on stems, from the Wood Bluegrass plant. The florets grow outward along the stem in dense clusters. Each floret is a long, elliptical container encased by lemmas and coming to a sharp point. Mature florets easily break open to release seeds as shown in the photograph below. Note the florets that are open and the falling seed.

Wood Bluegrass Panicle and Floret

As implied by the family and genus name, this plant may be consumed by grazing animals. This plant is not native but is naturalized and very common on Mount Desert Island. It is considered very invasive. 


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