Plant Guide > Grasses > False Red Top Grass

False Red Top Grass

False Red Top GrassPoa triflora Gilib.

False Red-top, the tallest of the common Poas. blooms in swampy places and in wet meadows, where the green spikelets show each a tawny orange tip and sometimes change to dull purple as the seeds ripen.

The large, gracefully drooping panicles could hardly be mistaken for those of the Red-top of the fields, and assuredly not if the spikelets were examined, showing several tiny flowers in each spikelet where the Red-top has but one.

In many places this species is known as Fowl Meadow-grass, and the tradition is that it received that name from the fact that wild ducks and other water-fowl brought the seed to a low meadow near Dedham, Mass.

Flexuous Spear-grass and Short-leaved Spear--grass (Poa autumnalis and P. brachyphylla) are the earliest of the genus and are found in woods from New York State southward.

They bloom in March, when the first arbutus opens, and are slender grasses, with loose panicles which bear but a few green spikelets at the extremities of the branches.

Each flowering scale in the majority of the species of this genus shows a small tuft of cobwebby hairs at the base, and under the microscope this tuft forms a distinguishing feature by which the grasses may be recognized.

In Canada Blue-grass and Flexuous Spear-grass the tufts are lacking, but the flowering scales are downy below the middle.

False Red-Top. Fowl Meadow-grass. Poa triflora Gilib.


Stem 2-5 ft. tall, erect, rather slender. Ligule 1"-2" long. Leaves 4'-10' long, 1"-2" wide, flat.

Panicle 6'-12' long, branches rough, slender, divided and spikelet-bearing above the middle, lower branches 2'-5' long. Spikelets 2-5-flowered, 1 1/2"-2" long, on short pedicels. Outer scales acute, slightly unequal; flowering scales obtuse, webby at base, downy below on marginal nerves and mid-nerve, usually tawny orange or reddish at apex; palets nearly as long as flowering scales. Stamens 3.

Wet meadows and swampy places. June to August.

Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island, south to New Jersey, Illinois, and Nebraska.