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Bulbous Meadow-grass

Poa bulbosa

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, lawns, sand dunes, seaside.

Green, no petals
Green (purple-tinged) flowers. 2 to 7 florets per spikelet. The flowers are arranged inside a cluster at the top of the main stem.
The fruit is a caryopsis. Seeds are rarely produced.
The leaves are hairless and can be folded or flat. Up to 4 inches (10cm) long.
Other Names:
Bulbous Bluegrass.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Poa bulbosa, also known as bulbous bluegrass, is a species of grass that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a low-growing perennial grass that forms small, compact tufts. The leaves are narrow and often have a blue-green color. The plant produces small, inconspicuous flowers in the spring. Poa bulbosa is often used as a lawn grass and is well-suited for use in low-maintenance lawns and turf. It is also used as a ground cover in landscape design and is a good choice for use in areas with poor soil conditions.


Bulbous Meadow-grass, also known as Poa bulbosa, is a perennial grass species that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a common weed found in lawns, pastures, and waste areas across North America, where it was likely introduced as a contaminant in seed mixtures. Despite being considered a weed, Poa bulbosa has some interesting features that make it worth examining.

One of the most distinctive features of Poa bulbosa is its bulb-like structures, which give the plant its name. These bulbs are actually modified stem structures called rhizomes, which allow the plant to spread rapidly and form dense mats. The rhizomes can also store food reserves that help the plant survive unfavorable conditions, such as drought or cold temperatures.

Poa bulbosa typically grows to a height of 10 to 40 centimeters, with leaves that are flat and narrow, measuring 1 to 3 millimeters wide. The plant produces a flowering stem that can be up to 60 centimeters tall, with a cluster of small spikelets at the top. The spikelets contain many tiny flowers, each with a single seed.

Although Poa bulbosa is considered a weed, it does have some ecological value. The plant's dense mats can provide cover and shelter for small animals and insects, and its seeds are eaten by birds and other wildlife. Poa bulbosa is also a useful indicator of soil health, as it tends to thrive in soils that are compacted, nutrient-poor, or otherwise disturbed. By identifying areas where Poa bulbosa is growing, land managers can target their efforts to improve soil quality and restore natural habitats.

Controlling Poa bulbosa can be a challenge, as the plant's rhizomes can be difficult to remove entirely. Cultural practices such as proper mowing and fertilization can help prevent the plant from spreading, while herbicides may be needed to control established infestations. However, herbicide use should be approached with caution, as Poa bulbosa is often found in areas that are near water sources or where sensitive ecosystems may be affected.

Poa bulbosa may be considered a weed, but it is an interesting and ecologically important plant nonetheless. Its bulbous rhizomes, ability to thrive in poor soils, and value as a wildlife food source and habitat make it a valuable component of many ecosystems. While it may require management to prevent it from becoming invasive, it is important to recognize and appreciate the role that Poa bulbosa plays in our natural world.

Poa bulbosa has been used for medicinal purposes in some traditional cultures. For example, it has been used to treat sore throats, colds, and coughs. Some studies have found that Poa bulbosa contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain its medicinal use.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal value, Poa bulbosa has also been used for human consumption. In some cultures, the seeds of the plant are ground into flour and used to make bread or porridge. However, the seeds are quite small, and it would take a large amount of them to produce a usable amount of flour.

Poa bulbosa is also used in some commercial applications, such as erosion control and landscaping. The plant's ability to form dense mats makes it useful for stabilizing soil on slopes or preventing erosion along waterways. In landscaping, Poa bulbosa is sometimes used as a groundcover or in rock gardens.

Despite its many uses, Poa bulbosa can still be a nuisance for homeowners and farmers. The plant's thick mats can crowd out desirable grasses and other plants, making it difficult to maintain a healthy lawn or pasture. It can also be difficult to control, as the plant's rhizomes can quickly regenerate even after being removed.

Another interesting feature of Poa bulbosa is its ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions. The plant can grow in both sunny and shady areas, and can tolerate both wet and dry soils. It can also grow in soils with high salt concentrations, making it useful for stabilizing shorelines and other areas prone to erosion.

Poa bulbosa is a self-fertile plant, meaning that it can reproduce without cross-pollination from other plants. This allows it to spread rapidly and form dense stands, which can outcompete other plant species. The plant's ability to produce large numbers of seeds also contributes to its success as a weed.

Despite its reputation as a weed, Poa bulbosa can have aesthetic value in certain settings. Its distinctive seed heads can add visual interest to naturalized areas, and its ability to form dense mats can be useful for creating low-maintenance lawns or other landscaping features.

Another interesting aspect of Poa bulbosa is its interaction with other plant species. While it can be a competitor with desirable plants in certain settings, it can also have positive effects on other species. For example, the plant's dense mats can help to retain soil moisture and reduce soil erosion, which can benefit neighboring plants. The plant's rhizomes can also help to stabilize soil, reducing the risk of landslides or other erosion-related disasters.

In addition, Poa bulbosa has been found to have allelopathic effects on some plant species. Allelopathy is the ability of a plant to release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants. Studies have found that Poa bulbosa produces chemicals that can inhibit the growth of certain plant species, including some other grasses. While this may be a disadvantage in some settings, it could be useful in others, such as in controlling invasive plant species.

Finally, Poa bulbosa is an interesting example of a plant species that has been introduced to new areas and adapted to local conditions. As mentioned earlier, the plant is not native to North America but has become widespread across the continent. Its success as a weed in this new environment is due in part to its ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions, but also to human activities such as the introduction of seed mixtures containing the plant.

Overall, Poa bulbosa is a fascinating and complex plant species with many interesting features and interactions. While it can be a nuisance in some settings, it is important to recognize its ecological and cultural value, and to develop effective strategies for managing its impact. By studying and understanding this plant species, we can better appreciate the diversity and complexity of the natural world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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