Plate 9; Seed, Plate 26, Fig. 15.
Other English names: Canada Blue Grass, English Blue Grass, Wire Grass, Creeping Poa, Smaller Blue Grass, Virginia Blue Grass.
Botanical description: Canadian Blue Grass is perennial. The underground rootstock is extensively creeping, sending out numerous branches in all directions. Where a plant has an opportunity to develop undisturbed for some years, it will generally form a circular patch. The overground part of such a patch consists of scattered stems and leafy shoots, making a dense sod more like a continuous mat than a loose tuft. The stems are from one to two feet tall, often knee-bent at the base. They are wiry, few leaved and strongly flattened. No other cultivated species of the genus Poa having flattened stems, Canadian Blue Grass may be recognized by this peculiarity. The leaves are from one to three inches long, not as broad and numerous as those of Kentucky Blue Grass. They are bluish-green, sometimes quite glaucous. The flowers are in a panicle unlike that of Kentucky Blue Grass. In the latter species it is generally broadly pyramidal, the lower branches being numerous at each joint. When in bloom the panicle of Canadian Blue Grass is generally oblong, or narrowly egg-shaped, the branches being short and only one or two from each joint. When flowering is over, the panicle becomes contracted and narrow with erect branches. The spikelets are like those of Kentucky Blue Grass and fertilization takes place in the same way.
Geographical distribution: Canadian Blue Grass is indigenous to all European countries and to southwestern Asia. It was introduced into North America and was found in Canada more than a hundred years ago. It is now grown to a considerable extent in southern and central Ontario.
Habitat: It grows naturally in dry and sunny places, along roadsides, on rocks and stony hills, and from the sea level to high up in the mountains. It often occurs in poor, gravelly soil where other plants find it difficult to get a foothold.
Cultural conditions: In Canada, stiff rather sterile clay or clay loam is the soil in which it is preferably grown, often because it makes a fairly good growth where other plants fail to give a yield worth mentioning.
Plate 9 CANADIAN BLUE GRASS (Poa compressa /. . ).
Climate: It is rather insusceptible to climatic conditions. Severe drought that would be disastrous to most other forage plants makes it die down, but with the advent of rain it starts again, apparently unharmed, developing new stems and leaves from its root-stock. It is resistant to frost and stands freezing and thawing without injury. This explains the frequent occurrence of Blue Grass patches in low-lying parts of poorly drained Alfalfa fields in the Blue Grass sections of southern Ontario.
Habits of growth: In its manner of propagating itself and bearing unfavourable conditions without injury, Canadian Blue Grass closely resembles certain weeds, especially Couch Grass. In rich soil where forage plants such as Alfalfa can be successfully grown, Canadian Blue Grass is really nothing but a weed, hard to get rid of, and many farmers look upon it as a pest.
Agricultural value: In yielding power and general feeding value it cannot compete with Kentucky Blue Grass, and on rich limestone soil the latter is superior beyond comparison. On poor clays, however, Canadian Blue Grass is apt to succeed much better than Kentucky Blue Grass.
Fodder: On account of the rather low yield, it is not much used for hay though it is claimed to be wholesome and highly nutritious for horses.
Pasture: Its chief value is as a permanent pasture grass. It should not be allowed to get too old as it becomes less palatable. There is no danger in pasturing it close; close grazing encourages the growth and makes it more attractive to stock. As a pasture grass it is rich and nourishing, especially for the production of beef or mutton; it can also be used to advantage for milk production. It is recommended as a lawn grass for stiff clay soils deficient in lime, and it is commonly used as an ingredient in commercial lawn mixtures. Twenty to thirty pounds of seed are sufficient for an acre.
Seed growing: When grown for seed the heaviest yield is generally obtained from new fields or from volunteer crops after wheat or other grain. It should be cut when the panicles are deep yellow. Curing and threshing are easy and can be done in the same. way as for Timothy. The grain thresher or clover huller may be used, the latter being preferred as a rule.
Quality of seed: The seed is yellowish-brown in bulk, somewhat dull and a little darker than that of Kentucky Blue Grass; otherwise the seeds are very similar in the trade. Generally Canadian Blue Grass seeds are blunter, with a broad end, and the side nerves of the glumes are wanting or indistinct.
The legal weight of a bushel of seed is fourteen pounds.