Poa pratensis L.

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Author: Alain Peeters

Common names

Smooth-stalked meadow grass or meadow grass (English), Pâturin des prés (French), Wiesen rispengras (German).


Perennial plant, medium size, usually hairless, rhizomatous. Stems erect or ascendent, 15 - 80 cm high. Blade folded when young, long (up to 30 cm), rather narrow (1 - 5 mm), quite stiff, dark green to greyish green, with 2 visible veins on each side of the central nerve (<< ski tracks >>) and with a hooded tip (by smoothing down, the top of the blade tears and looks like a doe hoof !). Ligule of the lower leaves very short, truncate. Ligule of the upper leaves longer (1 - 3 mm), but always rather short and truncate. No auricles. Panicle-like inflorescence, spreading, oblong-pyramidal, with branches clustered per level of 2 to 5. Tendency to form 3 short branches and 3 long branches at each level, but this feature is very irregular. Spikelets 3 - 5 - flowered, with woolly hairs at the base. Spikelets more robust than P. trivialis. Very variable species which include several subspecies. The weight of 1000 seeds is 0.3 to 0.5 g (small seeds). Chromosome number: 2n = 50 - 124. The described subspecies is pratensis.


Large climate range. Very resistant to cold and heat. Marked thermophilous tendency. 


Very resistant to drought. Can be an interesting alternative to perennial ryegrass in grazed pastures in dry continental climates or on dry sands.


Optimum on cool to dry soils. Marked preference for slightly dry soils, well drained (sand or shallow soils). Large range for nutrient availability. Can be abundant on soils moderately supplied to very rich in nutrients and on moderately acid to alcaline soils (mesotrophic to eutrophic species). Has however quite low requirements, can survive on rather poor soils. Preference for light, sandy soils but large range.


Subcosmopolitan mainly in temperate and cold areas. From the lowlands to alpine levels in mountain areas.