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

Poa arctica subsp. lanata R. Br. (Scribn. & Merr.) Soreng
arctic bluegrass
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Poa arctica subsp. lanata
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Species Information

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Perennial, densely to loosely tufted grass from fibrous roots and rhizomes; stems usually decumbent, 7.5-60 cm tall/long.
Sheaths hairless, margins open 1/2-3/4 their length; sterile shoots mainly breaking through the sheath bases; basal bladeless leaves present; blades 1-4 mm wide, flat or folded; ligules (1) 2-7 mm long, the tips blunt or rounded to sharp-pointed, entire or torn, backs smooth or slightly rough.
Inflorescence a lax to erect panicle, (2) 3.5-15 cm long, sparse, egg-shaped to broadly pyramidal, usually open; lowermost internodes less than 1.5 (3) cm long, the branches 1 to 5 per node, ascending or widely spreading, round, smooth or slightly to moderately rough, spikelets not crowded, longest lowermost branches 2/5-3/5 the length of the panicle; spikelets laterally compressed, 4-8 mm long, (2-) 3- to 6-flowered, sometimes with bulbils; glumes lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, keels indistinct, smooth or slightly rough near the tips, the lower ones 3-nerved, the upper usually nearly equalling to slightly exceeding the lower lemmas; rachillas smooth, hairless or sparsely minutely soft to long silky-hairy; lemmas lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, 3.5-7 mm long, the tips sharp-pointed, margins broadly translucent, surface smooth, keel and marginal nerves long silky-hairy, lateral nerves silky-hairy, mostly short silky-hairy between the nerves, lateral nerves prominent; calluses sparsely to copiously hairy; palea keels silky-hairy most of the length (rarely nearly hairless), minutely soft-hairy (or with at least a few, minute, straight hairs) between the keels; flowers bisexual (some appearing female due to aborted anthers); anthers sometimes aborted late in development or if present, 1.4-2.5 mm long.
Two subspecies occur in BC:

1. Spikelets mostly greater than 6 mm long; lower lemmas 4.5-6 mm long; stem leaf blades often flat and more than 2 mm wide................... ssp. lanata (Scribner & Merr.) Soreng

1. Spikelets less than 6 mm long; lower lemmas 3-4.5 mm long; stem leaf blades mostly folded and less than 2 mm wide................... ssp. arctica

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet meadows, gravel bars and stream sides in the montane to alpine zones; ssp. arctica - frequent throughout BC; ssp. lanata - locally frequent in NW BC (poorly defined elsewhere); ssp. arctica - circumboreal, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NS, S to WA and NM; Iceland, Eurasia; ssp. lanata - amphiberingian, N to AK, YT and NT; E Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Poa arctica ssp. lanata

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) 1630 1817 1921
Slope Gradient (%) 0 6 20
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
300 300 300
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 3 4
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: BAFA(2)


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 arctica var. lanata (Scribn. & Merr.) B. Boivin
Poa arctica var. vivipara Hultén
Poa lanata Scribn. & Merr.
Poa malacantha Kom.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References