Kentucky Bluegrass

Poa pratensis

(c) John M. Randall / The Nature Conservancy

Kentuck Bluegrass is a dense grass with smooth, upright stems. At the top of the stems are clusters of greenish flowers. This plant grows one to three feet tall. Kentucky Bluegrass is just one of many species of bluegrass, and is one of the most common.

Kentucky Bluegrass grows in meadows, fields, roadsides, open woods, and streamsides. It can grow in dry or moist soil. It is very competitive and will often crowd out other plants.

Bluegrasses are perennial, so they live more than one year.

USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program (biology.usgs.gov/npsveg)

Dr. M. Halling

Kentucky Bluegrass leaves are blades, up to eight inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Leaves grow from the base of the plant, and the tip of the leaf resembles the bow (front) of a boat.

Bluegrass blooms from May to August. Flowers are tiny, growing on small spikelets in clusters at the end of the stems. Each spikelet is 1/4 inch long; a cluster can be six inches long. Tiny reddish fruits take the place of flowers and provide seeds for many animals.

Kentucky Bluegrass spreads by rhizomes, stems that grow sideways underground.

Copyright, Purdue University and the Purdue Forage Information web site

Copyright, Ohio State University

(c) John M. Randall / The Nature Conservancy

Many birds eat the seeds of bluegrass, including: Wild Turkey, ducks and geese, Northern Bobwhite, sparrows, and doves. Meadow Voles and other small mammals also eat seeds. Rabbits and deer eat leaves and stems.

Many, many insects use bluegrass as a food source. Grubs (beetle larvae) eat the roots, and leafhoppers and caterpillars eat leaves.

Earthworms, snails, slugs, isopods, and millipedes eat dead leaves, stems, and roots.

Copyright, Ohio State University

Some animals help Kentucky Bluegrass spread by pooping seeds out in new places.

Many predators are attracted to bluegrass to feed on the animals that feed on the grass. Mantids, spiders, ground beetles, and moles are some of the predators found near Kentucky Bluegrass.

Some fungi attack bluegrass, a common one is Powdery Mildew.

Because Kentucky Bluegrass grows just about everywhere, it is found with many different species of plants. Some common associates of bluegrass include: Wild Strawberry, cinquefoils, Common Dandelion, and buttercups.

Since bluegrass is so dense, it provides great cover for small animals, including insects, mammals, reptiles, spiders, amphibians, and birds (especially ground feeders). Ground-nesting birds, such as Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, ducks, and geese, often build nests among Kentucky Bluegrass and other grasses. Many tree-nesting birds use grass stems and leaves as nest material.

Kentucky Bluegrass is believed to be an introduced species, probably brought from Europe or Africa.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

Eastern Cottontail

Daring Jumping Spider

Wild Strawberry

Powdery Mildew Pa

White-tailed Deer

Earthworm

Common Dandelion

Wild Turkey

Eastern Mole

Switchgrass

Northern Bobwhite

Meadow Vole

Smooth Crabgrass

Mallard

Woodchuck

Lamb's Quarters

Mourning Dove

Eastern Forest Snail

English Plantain

Meadow Vole

Wood Duck

Common Milkweed

White-footed Mouse

Green Stinkbug

Black Oak

Earthworm

Leopard Slug

Silver Maple

Eastern Forest Snail

Garden Centipede

Red Clover

Leopard Slug

Chinese Mantid

Queen Anne's Lace

Isopod

American Toad

Devil's Beggar-tick

North American Millipede

American Dog Tick

Black Willow

Japanese Beetle

Eastern Hognose Snake

Bracken Fern

White-throated Sparrow

Five-lined Skink

Bull Thistle

Norway Rat

Eastern Box Turtle

Witch Hazel

Northern Cardinal

Smooth Sumac

Tufted Titmouse

Virginia Pine

Ring-legged Earwig

Spicebush

Bald Eagle

Black Locust

Relationship to Humans:

People have made great use of Kentucky Bluegrass as a lawn grass. It is also planted for horse farming, since it is considered a good food source for horses. Because it is so competitive, Kentucky Bluegrass can push out other native species of grass in some areas.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Liliopsida
ORDER
Cyperales
FAMILY
Poaceae
GENUS
Poa
SPECIES
Poa pratensis

QUICK LINKS

Organism Menu
Home
Glossary
Student Activities
Relationships
Classification Info
How to Use This Site
Bibliography