West Highland Flora

Glaucous Meadow-grass


Poa glauca

Taxonomic note: includes Poa balfourii which used to be included in Poa nemoralis.

Photo John Birks
Dept of Biology, Univ. of Bergen
Jul 1967 Storr, Skye

Occasional on mountain rock ledges and screes.

Stems c 15-40 cm long.  Ligule of uppermost leaf mostly 1-2.5 mm.  Spikelets c 4-6 mm long.  Glumes c 3-4.5 mm long.  Lemmas c 3-4 mm long.

ID: In its usual form it is easily recognised by much of the plant being covered with a whitish waxy "bloom" which gives a glaucous effect (not usually quite so dazzling as in the first two pics!).  This and the spikelets of the typical Poa form (see last pic) are enough to identify it.

Sometimes however the wax is absent and the plant is green.  In that case the following should work (in theory).  Plant perennial (look for previous year's dead stems) and densely tufted without rhizomes or stolons (this should be easy to check as it'll be on bare rock)  Uppermost leaf normally very low down on the stem, well below the halfway point (examine several).

Other features:  Typically the stem and branches are glaucous in the inflorescence and for some way below, then the stem is green until the next node, when it is glaucous again until the next node, after which it is purplish-glaucous for the short distance to the base.  The spikelets are usually purplish.  But there is much variation in the colouring of this species.  Normally 3-4 florets per spikelet.

 

Poa glauca

Photo John Birks
Dept of Biology, Univ. of Bergen
Jul 1967 Storr, Skye

 

Poa glauca

Photo Carl Farmer
11 Jul 2004 Storr, Skye
Longest shoot c 26 cm

 

Poa glauca

Photo Carl Farmer
11 Jul 2004 Storr, Skye
Glaucous bit of upper stem c 2 cm long

 

Poa glauca

Photo Carl Farmer
11 Jul 2004 Storr, Skye
Spikelets c 4.5-5.5 mm long

 

Poa glauca

Photo Carl Farmer
11 Jul 2004 Storr, Skye
Top ruler divs 1 mm


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