Plants and Animals

Poa autumnalis Bluegrass

Key Characteristics

Clumped, perennial grass, 30 to 90 cm tall; leaves 2.0 mm wide or less, boat-shaped tip; inflorescence open panicle as long as wide; spikelets at ends of long panicle branches unlike the similar annual bluegrass (P. annua) that has spikelets crowded along outer half of branches; lemmas with 5 distinct nerves, no cobwebby hairs; glumes 1-nerved, less than 4.4 mm long.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: X - Presumed extirpated (legally 'threatened' if rediscovered)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: SX - Presumed extirpated


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed

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.


A single historical occurrence in Michigan was collected from swampy forests and flatwoods near Rochester, Michigan. Found in mesic to wet-mesic forest and floodplains throughout its range and in some disturbed areas (e.g., road side, right-of-way).

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

Known associates in Indiana include sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), black-gum (Nyssa sylvatica), may-apple (Podophyllum peltatum), white oak (Quercus alba), chinquapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii), and hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).

Management Recommendations

A single collection in Michigan was made in 1896 near Rochester. This population has not been relocated. A status survey in southeast Michigan is warranted, focusing on Oakland County, to discover any remnant populations. If found, populations would likely benefit from management that protects seasonal fluctuations in hydrology. Infrequent prescribed burns may also benefit the communities that harbor this species. Maintain healthy intact, mature forests, and minimize forest fragmentation. Remove invasive species from occupied sites and adjacent areas.

Survey Methods

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

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From second week of April to fourth week of May


Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Department of Conservation, Indianapolis. 1236pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Hitchcock, A.S. 1935. Manual of the Grasses of the United States. 2nd Ed. A. Chase [ed.]. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., USA. 1040 pp.
  • Voss, E.G., and A.A. Reznicek. 2012. Field Manual of Michigan Flora. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. 1008 pp.