Plant Guide > Grasses > Fowl Meadow Grass

Fowl Meadow Grass

FOWL MEADOW GRASS (Poa palustris L.)

Other Latin names: Poa flava L., Poa serotina Ehrh., Poa triflora Gilib.

Other English name: False Red Top.

Botanical description:

Fowl Meadow Grass is perennial with short runners which produce few and short leafy shoots. It looks rather like Rough-stalked Meadow Grass, but the plants form looser tufts, consisting chiefly of flower-bearing stems. These are rarely quite upright but are ascending, their base lying flat on the ground. At the base they produce roots and secondary branches which develop into ordinary leafy stems.

The stems are from two to five feet high, leafy to above the middle. The stem leaves are long and narrow, soft in texture and bright green in colour. Their ligule is generally long but blunt. The panicles are large, with numerous branches from the joints. At flowering time the branches are widely spreading; later they are upright and form a narrow panicle.

Each spikelet contains three to six flowers of a peculiar colour. The lower part is green and the top is yellow or brown with a golden or bronze lustre. The spikelets are thus two-coloured, and the effect of the whole panicle is characteristic and quite different from that of either Kentucky Blue or Rough-stalked Meadow Grass.

Geographical distribution:

Fowl Meadow Grass is a native of Europe, temperate Asia and North America.


It grows naturally in moist meadows, in ditches and along seashores and streams, etc.

Cultural conditions:

It reaches perfection in wet meadows where the soil is rich in organic matter, and it makes good growth on clays or clay loams which are flooded from time to time. Stagnant water will not hurt it and it is therefore preferable to Rough-stalked Meadow Grass in marshy and swampy localities, where the latter is apt to rot at the base of the stems.

Habits of growth:

It is rather easy to start the plants from seed but it takes them two or three years to reach full development. If the soil and other conditions are favourable, it will in time crowd out other grasses and form a dense and persisting sod. It starts growth later than does Kentucky Blue Grass and generally blooms some weeks later. It is peculiar in remaining green and fairly succulent a long time after flowering.

Agricultural value:

Fowl Meadow Grass is generally grown for hay, and in low-lying localities, with abundant water, the bulk produced is very great. It gives a rich fodder, relished by all kinds of stock. As it gives a good second growth, it is evident that it is of considerable value as a forage plant. It is usually sown with other grasses such as Red Top and Timothy.

Fowl Meadow Grass seed