E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Poa fendleriana (Steud.) Vasey
mutton grass (long-tongue mutton grass; muttongrass)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Curtis Bjork  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #16547)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Poa fendleriana
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Species Information

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Perennial tufted grass from fibrous roots and rhizomes, the rhizomes often short and inconspicuous; stems erect or decumbent, 15-70 cm tall/long.
Sheath margins open about 2/3 their length; sterile shoots mainly emerging inside sheaths with well-developed two-keeled buds protecting the scales; blades (0.5) 1-2 (4) mm wide, in-rolled, thick, outer surface smooth; upper ones often absent or very reduced, the uppermost one often vestigial, rigid, always less than 1/5 the sheath length, inner surface of blades of sterile shoots usually distinctly rough or minutely soft-hairy; ligules 0.2-1.8 mm long, the backs smooth or rough.
Inflorescence an erect panicle, 2-12 (30) cm long, lanceolate to egg-shaped, congested, frequently with more than 100 spikelets, the branches 1 to 2 per node, appressed at maturity, smooth or rough; spikelets laterally compressed, (3) 4-8 (12) mm long, 2- to 7- (13-) flowered; the lower glumes 1- to 3-nerved; rachillas smooth, hairless, sparsely short straight-hairy, or sparsely minutely soft-hairy; lemmas lanceolate, 3-6 mm long, the tips sharp-pointed, surface smooth or slightly rough, keel and lateral nerves long silky-hairy, lateral nerves minutely soft- to short silky-hairy, internerves hairless or infrequently minutely soft-hairy; calluses hairless; palea keels rough, medially somewhat minutely soft or short silky-hairy; flowers female; anthers non-functional.
Two female-flowered, apomictic subspecies occur in BC:

1. Ligules more than 1.5 mm long, extending down from the base on the margins of the sheaths.................... ssp. longiligula (Scribn. and T. Williams) Soreng

1. Ligules less than 1.5 mm long, not extending down from the base..................... ssp. fendleriana

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry grasslands and ridges in the steppe and lower montane zones; ssp. fendleriana - rare in SC BC; ssp. longiligula - infrequent in BC; ssp. fendleriana E to MB and S to TX, NM, AZ and CA; ssp. longiligula - S to SD, TX, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Poa fendleriana

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 235 1112 2495
Slope Gradient (%) 0 41 110
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
2 165 330
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(6), BG(1), ESSF(16), IDF(53), MS(2), PP(4), SBPS(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

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