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NATURAL HISTORY

SAN BERNARDINO BLUEGRASS } Poa atropurpurea
FAMILY: Poaceae

DESCRIPTION: San Bernardino bluegrass is a perennial, dioecious grass that displays bunches of purple flowers during May and June. San Bernardino bluegrass can be differentiated from its frequent companion Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) by its narrower flower clusters, or inflorescences, and other floral features.

HABITAT: San Bernardino bluegrass grows only in moist, montane meadows and grassy slopes at elevations of 6,000 to 7,500 feet.

RANGE: This species in is found in meadow habitat in the Big Bear region of the San Bernardino Mountains, as well as the Laguna Mountains and Palomar Mountains of San Diego County

LIFE CYCLE: San Bernardino bluegrass blooms in May and June.

THREATS: This plant is threatened by loss and degradation of habitat from urban and recreational development; habitat fragmentation from off-road vehicle traffic; grazing by livestock and feral burros; hybridization with invasive bluegrass (Poa pratensis); and competition from other invasive plants. The dioecious nature of this species — the fact that it has separate male and female plants — compounds any threat at a given site.

POPULATION TREND: The San Bernardino bluegrass population is declining. Additional monitoring is required to fully assess the rate of decline.

San Bernardino bluegrass photo by Chelsea Vollmer/USFWS