Bluejoint Grass, Calamagrostis canadensis

Bluejoint Grass

Calamagrostis canadensis

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Moist, Wet
Color: Green
Fragrance: No
Height: 4 feet
Spacing: 2 to 3 feet

Blue Joint Grass (Calamagrostis canadensis) is one of the more abundant native grasses on the continent. It blooms in late spring to early summer with pink-green seeds that are attractive but not highly ornamental. Bluejoint refers to the blue-purple color of its nodes. Spreading quickly by shallow rhizomes in moist to wet soils, Blue Joint Grass can help to stabilize stream banks.

This perennial grass forms dense stands or tufted culms that are 2-5 feet tall. In areas where this species is more sparsely distributed, it resembles a bunchgrass, while in other areas where it is dominant, this grass forms a coarse sod.

The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer, lasting about 1-2 weeks for a colony of plants. The florets are cross-pollinated by the wind. Afterwards, the panicles and their spikelets become straw-colored during late summer, when the grains become mature. The tufted lemmas and their grains are dispersed by wind or water. Depending on the variety of this grass, the grains vary in size from 1.25-2 mm. in length; they are narrowly ellipsoid-oblongoid, light brown, glabrous, and very light in weight. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Clonal offsets develop from the rhizomes. This grass occasionally forms large colonies at favorable sites.

Habitats include wet to moist prairies, wet to moist sand prairies, wet to moist dolomite prairies, prairie swales, sedge meadows, marshes, bogs, fens, sandy pannes near Lake Michigan, swamps, and poorly drained areas along railroads. In some of these habitats, Bluejoint Grass may be the dominant or codominant ground vegetation. Unfortunately, many of the wetlands where this grass once occurred in great abundance have been destroyed, although it is still occurs in smaller stands at scattered locations.

The preference is full or partial sun, wet to moist conditions, and cool to warm summer temperatures. This grass adapts to a variety of soil types, including loam, clay, silt, sand, or some combination of the preceding types. It also has a broad pH tolerance. Standing water is tolerated by this grass if it does not persist throughout the growing season. Winter-hardiness is excellent. At some locations, this grass may spread aggressively. It is more easily established by division of its rhizomes, as the small seedlings are delicate.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Long-lived, sod-forming plant; can spread rapidly under ideal conditions.
  Grow in well-drained soil.
  Grows rapidly; will probably require cutting back
 Further Information

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