Poa chaixii (Broad-leaf Bluegrass)

Plant Info
Also known as: Broad-leaved Meadow Grass
Family:Poaceae (Grass)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe, Asia
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; disturbed soil; woods, meadows, trail edges
Fruiting season:July - August
Plant height:2 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle

[photo of panicle] Open panicle 4 to 8 inches long, oval-elliptic to pyramidal in outline, usually erect, sometimes slightly nodding, the branches ascending to spreading. Spikelets (flower clusters) are short-stalked, light green, flattened, lance-elliptic in outline, 4 to 9 mm (to ~1/3 inch) long with 2 to 6 florets; the uppermost floret may be sterile.

[close-up of spikelet] At the base of a spikelet is a pair of bracts (glumes) that are both pointed at the tip, awnless, hairless, keeled, rough along the keel, the lower glume 2.5 to 3 mm long and 1 to 3-veined, the upper glume 3 to 4 mm long and 3-veined. Surrounding a floret is a pair of bracts (lemma and palea), the lemma 3.5 to 4.5 mm long, hairless, pointed at the tip, keeled, 5-veined, rough along the veins and edges; the palea is as long as the lemma, 2-veined, rough along the veins. The thickened base of the floret (callus) and the stalk between florets (rachilla) are both hairless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal sheaths] Leaves are mostly basal with 2 or 3 alternate leaves widely spaced along the stem. Leaves are flat or folded, 5 to 15 mm (to ~½ inch) wide, hairless, boat-shaped at the tip. Basal leaves are lax and up to 18 inches long, stem leaves are erect to ascending, stiffer, and much shorter. Old, dead basal leaves persist to the next season.

[photo of sheath, ligule and node] The sheath is hairless, compressed, has a winged keel along the back, and the edges are fused for at least half their length (closed sheath). The ligule (membrane where the leaf blade joins the sheath) is .5 to 1.5 mm long and lacks a fringe of hairs. Nodes are smooth. Stems are unbranched, mostly erect, slightly compressed, multiple from the base forming clumps, and lack rhizomes or stolons.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of florets and immature grain] Individual florets drop away when mature, leaving the glumes behind persisting on the stalk. The grain (seed) is golden to brown.


Broad-leaf Bluegrass is a cool-season grass introduced from Europe. To-date it has only been recorded on Hunter's Hill in Duluth, the first time in 1937 and periodically since then, most recently in 1983; 35 years later we found it still there. It may be persistent but does not appear to be terribly aggressive. In its native range it is found in alpine meadows, floodplains and moist forests.

Poa species are recognized by their (usually) closed sheaths, leaves with boat-shaped tips, and often long, cobwebby hairs around the base of the floret (callus). Broad-leaf Bluegrass is distinguished by its clump-forming growth, the basal clump a mix of new and old leaves; leaves 5 to 15 mm (to ~½ inch) wide, flat or often folded, the upper stem leaves erect and rather short and the basal leaves much longer and more lax; ligule about 1 mm long; sheaths closed for half or more of their length, compressed with a winged keel on the back; spikelets in an open panicle, 2 to 6 florets per spikelet; florets rough along the veins and edges, 3.5 to 4.5 mm long, palea as long as the lemma. The callus is hairless, unlike many of its relatives.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in St Louis County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.