• Scientific Name: Poa fendleriana
  • Good for rangeland and for forage
  • Used for erosion control and native species restoration
  • Most drought tolerant bluegrass available
  • Valuable and well sought after seed

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Muttongrass (Poa fendleriana), also know as Mutton Bluegrass, has a variety of uses ranging from forage to erosion control to native species restoration. Muttongrass is a partly dioecious, having male and female flowers borne on separate plants. It grows one to two feet tall and often in dense clumps with numerous seedstalks. Leaves are rough to the touch. It is one of the most drought tolerant bluegrasses available and has great potential for use in restoration and native diversification projects throughout the midwestern and western states. It is a valuable and well sought after seed.

Muttongrass is distributed statewide in Utah and occurrs at elevations from 3,000 to 12,000 feet in sagebrush desert to wooded areas, on mountains, on alpine areas, and occasionally on dry ridges in the south of its range. Muttongrass is not shade tolerant. It usually grows to be between 0.7 and 2.5 feet tall. It is commonly found among sage brush and juniper and piñon-juniper communities. It is also found throughout ponderosa pine, aspen forests and Engelmann spruce-lodgepole pine zones.

Muttongrass prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. It does well on soils high in course fragments (rock, gravel, cobbles). The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Associated species include mountain brome, slender wheatgrass, oniongrass, Kentucky bluegrass, sagebrush, bitterbrush, snowberry, Richardson’s geranium, and many others.

The best time to plant is in the late fall or early spring (dormant) with a pure seeding rate of 2 lb PLS/acre. If seeding as part of a mix, adjust seeding rate to the desired percentage. For best results seeds should be drilled ¼ inch deep, into a firm, weed-free seedbed or seed can be broadcast followed with a cultipacker or harrow operation to provide a small covering of soil.

The name of muttongrass correctly implies that it has provided good quality feed for sheep. It is considered to be good for deer and elk as well. It can withstand rather heavy grazing. Because of their deep, fibrous root systems, muttongrass provides excellent erosion control.

***Click on the “Quick Plant Facts” tab above for more information.

(Pos fendleriana)

Muttongrass NRCS Plant Guide and Fact Sheet

PDF version of NRCS Plant Guide & Fact Sheet

Prepared By: Derek J. Tilley, Range Conservationist (Plants) USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Aberdeen, ID
Dan Ogle, Plant Materials Specialist, USDA NRCS Idaho State Office, Boise, ID
Loren St. John, Manager, USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Aberdeen, ID
Species Coordinator: Dan Ogle, Plant Materials Specialist, USDA NRCS Idaho State Office, Boise, ID

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Helpful Links

Additional information about this product can be found on the academic websites linked below.


Many plants have more than one common and scientific name. We've listed a few of them below.

  • Muttongrass
  • Poa fendleriana
  • Mutton Bluegrass

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Quick Plant Facts
Common Name:

Mutton bluegrass, Muttongrass

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