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Home>Plant Species>Native Species>Sandberg bluegrass

Drawing of Sandberg bluegrassSandberg bluegrass
Poa secunda (Poa sandbergii)

question markDid you know?

Because of its similar growth pattern, Sandberg bluegrass can compete with cheatgrass!

What is Sandberg bluegrass?
Sandberg bluegrass is a perennial bunchgrass, native to the Great Basin. It is an important component of sagebrush grassland vegetation, particularly in early successional stages. It is a widespread species and is one of the first perennial grasses to green up in spring.

Image of Sandberg bluegrass seed headWhat are its characteristics?
Sandberg bluegrass grows in small tufts, usually less than 12 inches tall. It provides good quality forage in spring and early summer, though it often dries before mid summer. Plants are small and have less foliage compared to plants like bluebunch and Snake River wheatgrass. Its tolerance to shade and grazing is moderate, and populations usually increase following fire. It is adapted to a wide variety of soils, but does best on those of medium texture. It tolerates cold and performs fairly well during drought. Sandberg bluegrass is relatively shallow-rooted, and stands fluctuate with annual weather conditions.

Image of Sandberg bluegrass plantWhat’s its value to the Great Basin?
Sandberg bluegrass can stabilize areas quickly where disturbances like fire and overgrazing have occurred. Seedlings are better at growing under dry conditions and in shallow soil than many other native species. It has the competitive ability to go up against cheatgrass because it follows a similar growth pattern of starting early and maturing quickly.

What is its restoration potential?
Sandberg bluegrass has been successfully used for reseeding burned areas. It produces roots quickly, and for a few years following fire, Sandberg bluegrass may out-compete cheatgrass due to increased tillering following the reduction of litter. However, cheatgrass tends to regain pre-fire dominance in time. In addition, Sandberg bluegrass seeds don't remain viable as long as those of many invasive plants.

Images:
-Drawing: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 1: 260.
-Seedhead: Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1992. Western wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. West Region, Sacramento, CA.
-Plant: Gary A. Monroe @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Text references:
-USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 26 September 2006). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
-Utah State University, Extension. 2006. Range Plants of Utah website (http://extension.usu.edu/rangeplants/index.htm, 26 September 2006).
-Howard, Janet L. 1997. Poa secunda. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: (http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/, 26 September 2006).