Poa alpina L.
Alpine blue grass (alpine bluegrass)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Bryan Kelly-McArthur     (Photo ID #71103)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Poa alpina
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Poa alpina ssp. alpina

Species Information

Perennial, densely tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems 10-40 cm tall.
Mostly basal, not glaucous; sheath margins open about 3/4 their length, basal sheaths persistent, densely overlapping; sterile shoots emerging strictly inside sheaths with distinct two-keeled buds protecting the scales; blades 2-4.5 mm wide, flat, thick, short, basal ones widely spreading, persisting through the season, upper stem ones much reduced in length; ligules rounded at tips, those of the sterile shoot leaves 1-2 (3) mm long, those of upper stem leaves up to 4 (5) mm long, backs smooth, hairless.
Inflorescence an erect panicle, 2-6 (8) cm long, egg-shaped to pyramidal, congested, contracted at maturity, terminal internodes 0.6-1 (1.5) cm long, the branches 1 to 2 per node, ascending to spreading, round, smooth or very slightly rough (rarely distinctly rough all around), the stalks widely spreading from the tips; spikelets laterally compressed, broadly lanceolate to egg-shaped, 3.9-6.2 mm long, 3- to 7-flowered; glumes broadly lanceolate, the lower 3-nerved; rachilla internodes less than 1 mm long, smooth, hairless; lemmas broadly lanceolate, 3-5 mm long, the tips sharp-pointed, keels and marginal nerves silky-hairy, sparsely to moderately short silky-hairy between the nerves; calluses hairless; paleas mostly minutely soft- to silky-hairy, the keels rough near the tips; flowers bisexual; anthers 1.3-2.3 mm long.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Poa alpina

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)
1931 5 3000
Slope Gradient (%)
26 0 300

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

189 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

AT(130), BAFA(232), BWBS(1), CMA(4), CWH(2), ESSF(438), ICH(1), IMA(74), MH(17), MS(3), SBPS(3), SBS(1), SWB(47)

Habitat and Range

Moist to wet meadows, gravel bars, avalanche tracks and talus slopes in the montane to alpine zones; common throughout BC; circumboreal, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and NS, and S to MI, OR, CO, UT and NM; Greenland, Eurasia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Poa alpina subsp. vivipara (L.) Arcang.
Poa alpina var. vivipara L.
Poa vivipara (L.) Willd.