Poa alpina
Alpine bluegrass
Image of Poa alpina

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

Key Characteristics

Small sparsely tufted grass (40 cm) of the Upper Peninsula; leaves narrow (2-4 mm); inflorescence pyramidal, twice as tall as wide; lemmas are 3-nerved, have long, fine hairs between the margin and the keel, and lack a tuft of cobwebby hairs at the base.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Poa alpina

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Alpine bluegrass is found in moist to dry limestone and in basaltic rock crevices and exposed heathlands along Great Lakes shores, particularly on Isle Royale, Keweenaw County, and Drummond Island.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Harebell, yarrow, cat's foot, downy oat grass, shrubby cinquefoil, Richardson's sedge, bulrush sedge, bunchberry, little bluestem, prairie dropseed, Canadian milk vetch, sedges, Indian paintbrush, field chickweed, bastard toad flax, grass, hair grass, prairie smoke, ground juniper, bee-balm, and old field goldenrod.


This species requires protection of the habitat and perpetuation of natural disturbance and hydrological regimes. Plants may not tolerate later stages of succession and likely require management that prevents woody plant encroachment such as prescribed burns or woody plant removal. This species is susceptible to damage from excessive recreational use and foot traffic.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Sep 24, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

Facebook link