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

Poa nemoralis L.
wood bluegrass (interior bluegrass (ssp. interior); woods bluegrass (ssp. nemoralis))
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11522)

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Distribution of Poa nemoralis
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Poa nemoralis ssp. nemoralis

Species Information

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Perennial, tufted grass from fibrous roots, green or glaucous; stems mostly erect or ascending, 5-80 cm tall, 0 to 5 nodes exserted, uppermost node usually in the middle to upper 1/3 of stem.
Sheath margins open 4/5-9/10 their length; sterile shoots all or most flowering within a season, next year's shoots set late in the growing season, all or most breaking through sheath bases with indistinct two-keeled buds protecting the scales; basal leaves bladeless; blades 0.8-3 mm wide, mostly flat, appressed or abruptly ascending to spreading, strict or somewhat lax; ligules 0.2-3 mm long, the tips blunt to rounded, minutely rough, the backs distinctly rough.
Inflorescence an erect or lax panicle, 4-20 cm long, narrowly lanceolate to egg-shaped, sparsely to moderately congested, the branches 2 to 5 per node, ascending to widely spreading, slender, moderately to distinctly rough on angles, the stalks shortly exserted; spikelets laterally compressed, 3-8 mm long, (1) 2- to 5-flowered; glumes awl-like to lanceolate, the lower ones 3-nerved; rachilla internodes mostly less than 1 mm long, smooth or rough, hairless or minutely soft-hairy; lemmas narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate, 2.4-4 mm long, the tips usually bronze-coloured in part, sharp-pointed, the keels and marginal nerves short silky-hairy, hairless or infrequently sparsely and minutely soft-hairy between the nerves; calluses sparsely and often short-cobwebby (rarely hairless); palea keels rough; flowers bisexual (some appearing female-like due to aborted anthers); anthers (0.8) 1.2-2.5 mm long.
Two subspecies occur in BC:

1. Uppermost culm nodes located on the upper 2/3 of the culms, 2-4 nodes exposed at maturity; ligules less than 0.8 (1) mm long; culms not rough below the panicles; lowest glumes awl-like to narrowly lanceolate, nearly equaling the lowest lemmas in length.................... ssp. nemoralis

1. Uppermost culm nodes located on the lower 1/2 of the culms (sometimes higher), 0-2 (3) nodes exposed at maturity; ligules more than (0.8) 1 mm long; culms sometimes rough below the panicles; lowest glumes narrowly to broadly lanceolate, 3/4 or less the length of the lowest lemmas.................... ssp. interior (Rydb.) W. A. Weber

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic meadows, rocky slopes and open forests in the montane zone (ssp. interior); moist forests and disturbed sites in the lowland zone (ssp. nemoralis); frequent E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains (ssp. interior), infrequent in SW BC (ssp. nemoralis); N to AK, YT and NT, E to PQ and S to VT, IL, MO, TX, NM, ID and WA (ssp. interior), introduced from Eurasia (ssp. nemoralis).

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Poa nemoralis

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) 250 1165 2500
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 97
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 218 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 3 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: BG(1), BWBS(4), CWH(1), ESSF(18), ICH(1), IDF(18), IMA(1), MS(7), SBPS(2), SBS(18)


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.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Poa interior Rydb.
Poa nemoralis var. interior (Rydb.) Butters & Abbe

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References