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SPECIES:  Calamagrostis canadensis
Bluejoint. Image by Rob Routledge, Sault College,


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Calamagrostis canadensis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: The taxonomy of this species was updated on 19 September 2018. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: CALCAN SYNONYMS: For Calamagrostis canadensis var. canadensis (Michx.) Beauv.: Calamagrostis canadensis var. imberbis (Stebbins) C.Hitchc. Calamagrostis canadensis var. pallida (Vasey & Scriber) Stebbins Calamagrostis canadensis var. robusta Vasey Calamagrostis canadensis var. typica Stebbins [1,12,21,23,39] For Calamagrostis canadensis var. langsdorffi (Link) Inman: Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) P. Beauv. subsp. langsdorffii (Link) Hultén Calamagrostis canadensis var. lactea (W.J. Beal.) C.Hitchc. Calamagrostis canadensis var. scabra (J.Presl.) A.Hitchc. [1,12,21,23,39] Calamagrostis canadensis var. macouniana (Vasey) Stebbins: Calamagrostis macouniana (Vasey) Vasey [39] NRCS PLANT CODE: CACA4 COMMON NAMES: bluejoint bluejoint reedgrass meadow pinegrass Canadian reedgrass marsh pinegrass marsh reedgrass Macoun's reedgrass TAXONOMY: The scientific name of bluejoint is Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) Beauv. (Poaceae). Recognized varieties are as follows [1,12,21,23,39]: Calamagrostis canadensis var. canadensis (Michx.) Beauv., bluejoint Calamagrostis canadensis var. langsdorfii (Link) Inman, bluejoint Calamagrostis canadensis var. macouniana (Vasey) Stebbins, Macoun's reedgrass LIFE FORM: Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Bluejoint is the most common and widespread Calamagrostis species in North America [38].  It occurs throughout the boreal and temperate regions.  Bluejoint is common in the subarctic from Alaska to Quebec, and extends south to all but the southeastern United States [16,17,38].
Distribution of bluejoint. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, September 19] [39].
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES22  Western white pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES25  Larch
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES37  Mountain meadows
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES39  Prairie
   FRES41  Wet grasslands
   FRES44  Alpine

     AK  AZ  CA  CO  CT  DE  HI  ID  IL  IN
     IA  KS  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MO  MT
     NE  NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OR
     PA  RI  SD  TN  UT  VA  VT  WA  WV  WI
     WY  AB  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON
     PE  PQ  SK  YT

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

   K005  Mixed conifer forest
   K007  Red fir forest
   K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
   K010  Ponderosa shrub - forest
   K011  Western ponderosa pine
   K012  Douglas-fir forest
   K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K015  Western spruce - fir forest
   K016  Eastern ponderosa forest
   K017  Black Hills pine forest
   K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest
   K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest
   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K030  California oakwoods
   K033  Chaparral
   K034  Montane chaparral
   K037  Mountain mahogany - oak scrub
   K038  Great Basin sagebrush
   K049  Tules marshes
   K052  Alpine meadows and barren
   K055  Sagebrush steppe
   K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
   K063  Foothills prairie
   K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
   K065  Grama - buffalograss
   K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass
   K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlestem
   K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
   K069  Bluestem - grama prairie
   K074  Bluestem prairie
   K081  Oak savanna
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K094  Conifer bog
   K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest
   K098  Northern floodplain forest
   K104  Appalacian oak forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest

    12  Black spruce
    13  Black spruce - tamarack
    16  Aspen
    18  Paper birch
    21  Eastern white pine
    22  White pine - hemlock
    37  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
    38  Tamarack
    68  Mesquite
   107  White spruce
   201  White spruce
   202  White spruce - paper birch
   204  Black spruce
   206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
   208  Whitebark pine
   212  Western Larch
   215  Western white pine
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
   246  California black oak
   250  Blue oak - gray pine
   251  White spruce - aspen
   252  Paper birch
   253  Black spruce - white spruce
   254  Black spruce - paper birch
   255  California coast live oak
   256  California mixed subalpine


Bluejoint  occurs as an understory dominant or codominant in
many early seral to climax riparian and cool, moist forest communities.
Published classifications listing bluejoint  as a dominant or
codominant in habitat types (hts), dominance types (dts), community
types (cts), riparian site types (rst), and plant associations (pas) are
listed below:

Area            Classification                  Authority

AK              general veg. pas                Viereck & Dyress 1980
AK: interior    postfire forest cts             Foote 1983
nw AK           forest veg. cts                 Hanson 1953
CO              forest hts                      Arno & Presby 1977
CO              hts                             Powell 1988
w CO            riparian veg. cts               Baker 1989a
nw CO           general veg. pas                Baker & Kennedy 1985
CO: Arapaho &   forest hts                      Hess & Alexander 1986  
 Roosevelt NF   
CO: Gunnison &  forest hts                      Komarkova & others 1988
 Uncompahgre NF                                
c ID            riparian cts, hts               Tuhy & Jensen 1982
n ID            forest cts, hts                 Cooper & others 1991
e ID, w WY      forest hts                      Steele & others 1983
e ID, w WY      riparian cts                    Youngblood & others 1985
MT              riparian dts.                   Hansen & others 1988
MT              forest hts                      Pfister & others 1977
c,e MT          riparian veg. rst., cts, hts    Hansen & others 1989
nw MT           riparian cts                    Boggs & others 1990
sw MT           riparian veg. rst, cts, hts     Hansen & others 1989
wc MT           wetland cts                     Pierce & Johnson 1986
UT: Uinta Mt.   forest hts                      Henderson & other 1977
n UT            forest hts                      Mauk & Henderson 1984
UT, se ID       riparian cts                    Padgett & others 1989
WY              riparian veg. rst               Olson & Gerhart 1982
WY: c YELL      riparian hts                    Mattson 1984

PQ: Saint       general veg. pas                Darsereau 1957
Lawrence Valley   
Yukon           veg. types                      Stanek & others 1981


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Bluejoint furnishes a large amount of forage for many big game species and livestock [16,18,38].  Occasionally it occupies considerable areas to the exclusion of other native grasses [26].  Under such conditions it yields a large amount of quality hay for livestock [26]. This grass is important forage for livestock in Alaska and is an important component in the diet of bison herds in the Slave River lowland, Northwest Territories, Canada [20].  It is grazed lightly by deer but makes up a major part of the diet of elk in the winter [25,42]. PALATABILITY: Bluejoint is most palatable when young and succulent. Since it often grows in wet habitats, use by livestock is often limited until late in the season when the grass is tough [18,38]. The relish and degree of use shown by wildlife species for bluejoint in several western states has been rated as follows [8]:                          MT      ND      UT      WY Pronghorn               ----    Poor    Poor    ---- Elk                     Fair    ----    Fair    ---- Mule deer               Poor    Poor    Fair    ---- White-tailed deer       Poor    Poor    ----    ---- Small mammals           ----    ----    Fair    Fair Small nongame birds     ----    ----    Fair    Fair Upland game birds       ----    ----    Poor    Poor Waterfowl               ----    Fair    Poor    Fair                NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Bluejoint has been rated as fair in energy value and poor in protein value [8,15].  In July of 1974, nutrient and mineral composition of this grass on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula were as follows [29]:          IVDMD(%)*                  Fiber %                   Protein %  Moose    Dairy Cow    Cell walls   ADF*   Lignin         48.1      55.9         69.8       37.8    3.7            9.8  * IVDMD=in vitro dry-matter digestibility  * ADF=acid detergent fiber       macronutrients (ppm)                  micronutrients (ppm)   Ca       K        Mg      Na           Cu     Fe     Mn     Zn   617.0    9799.0  1481.0   74.0         22.3   58.0   30.9   21.6 COVER VALUE: The degree to which bluejoint provides environmental protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species has been rated as follows [8]:                          MT      ND      UT      WY Pronghorn               ----    ----    Poor    Poor            Elk                     ----    ----    Poor    ---- Mule deer               ----    Fair    Poor    ---- White-tailed deer       ----    Good    ----    ---- Small mammals           Poor    ----    Fair    Fair Small nongame birds     Poor    ----    Fair    Good Upland game birds       Poor    ----    Fair    Fair Waterfowl               Good    Fair    Fair    Fair VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: The rhizomatous nature of bluejoint helps provide streambank stability.  This is particularly important on higher gradient streams where scouring by seasonal flooding is possible [4].  This grass is a vigorous invader of oil spill sites in the Northwest Territories, Canada, and recovers rapidly after spills [16].  Bluejoint was evaluated for revegetation in tundra and northern boreal forest sites. It established slowly, but by the end of the growing season, cover and biomass production equaled or exceeded those of commercial varieties. Seed of bluejoint has been collected for revegetation trials in Alberta [16]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Grazing:  Bluejoint is sensitive to overgrazing.  Yields decreased by 15 to 20 percent when bluejoint was cut two to four times during the growing the season, by 35 to 45 percent when cut five to six times, and about 70 percent when cut seven times, when compared to plots cut once at the end of the growing season [16]. Grazing should be restricted when soils are moist, especially along streams where bank sloughing can occur [13].  Livestock use should be timed according to both the drying of soil surface and the maturation of the seedheads.  Livestock should be removed when 40 percent or less utilization of herbaceous forage is obtained [13]. Insect and disease:  Some bluejoint strains are susceptible to white top.  This condition is caused by insect or fungal damage of the lower culms.  Bluejoint, in general, is not susceptible to snow mold [16]. Site competitor:  Bluejoint is a serious competitor of regeneration of conifer seedlings on disturbed moist sites.  Bluejoint often produces a thick, "mulch" of litter which insulates the soil surface, causing the soil temperature to decrease.  Cold soils could partially explain the poor growth of conifer seedlings that often occurs after planting in bluejoint-dominated sites [19]. Control:  Bluejoint can be controlled with glyphosate applied after flowering and about the same time as aboveground senescence begins [5].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Bluejoint is a sod-forming, native, perennial, cool-season grass [5,12,16,36].  Its blades are numerous and generally obtain a height of 2 to 4 feet (60-120 cm) [12,16].  In Alaska, this grass has been known to reach heights of up to 6.5 feet (200 cm) within 6 weeks [16].  This grass is long-lived.  Well-developed fields may persist for as long as 100 years [16].  Creeping underground rhizomes are extensive and fibrous roots are shallow [16,32,36,38]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:    Hemicryptophyte    Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Sexual Reproduction:  Bluejoint flowers are wind pollinated. Prolific flowering, however, occurs only in wetlands and recently disturbed sites [28].  The winged seeds are very lightweight and easily wind-borne [16,28].  Seed yields are low, but seed can remain viable in the soil for up to 5 years [6,16].  Seeds collected near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, had a germination rate of 90 percent at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 deg C).  Seedling vigor was rated as moderate [3,16]. Vegetative Reproduction:  Bluejoint can also reproduce vegetatively by rhizomes [6,16,28,33,38].  This grass is capable of producing an extensive network of rhizomes during a single growing season.  Small sections (two or more internodes) of several rhizomes can produce shoots and establish new clones [28,33]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Bluejoint occurs in a wide range of habitats from lowland wet sites, semishaded woodlands, to windswept alpine ridges [16,18]. It extends from sea level in the north and northwest to elevations of over 12,000 feet (3,658 m) near the southern limit of its range in New Mexico [18,38].  It prefers moist sites but can survive in a wide range of moisture regimes [16].  This grass, however, cannot germinate under drought conditions, although it is very drought resistant once established [16]. Soils:  Bluejoint occupies sites with imperfectly to moderately well-drained soils.  It is found on both peat and mineral soils, but most often on peat, and is adapted to a wide range of soil textures.  This grass is tolerant of extremely acidic soils, with pH values as low as 3.5, and is moderately tolerant of saline soils [8,16,19]. Plant associates:  Bluejoint is commonly associated with the following species:  Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), Geyer willow (Salix geyeriana), booth willow (Salix boothii), wolf's willow (Salix wolfii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) [13,14,15,30,31,40,41]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Bluejoint is a common constituent in a number of seral and climax communities.  A combination of sexual and vegetative reproduction allows this grass to persist throughout the successional continuum [4]. It is an aggressive ground residual colonizer and initial off-site colonizer in early seral communities.  Once established, a very dense stand of bluejoint may persist almost indefinitely, severely limiting the invasion of woody species [5].  In some mid-seral to climax wetland forest communities and forest communities having high water tables, bluejoint occurs as a dominant or codominant understory species [13,14,15,31,40]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: In general, bluejoint leaf and culm production occurs from early May to mid-June followed by significant vegetative growth of shoot biomass [5,19].  By mid-June flowering heads begin to emerge and by late June to early July flowering begins [5,19].  Flowering peaks from late June to mid-July.  Aboveground senescence begins mid to late August [5,19].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Bluejoint sprouts from on-site surviving rhizomes following fire [7,28,35,37].  It can also establish on burned sites by wind-dispersed seeds [7]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:    Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire will kill aboveground vegetation of bluejoint [35,37]. Severe fires will also kill belowground rhizomes [35,37]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: Under droughty conditions dead shoots of bluejoint exhibit low moisture content [20,37].  In small experimental fires in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, dead litter sustained combustion, but the fire merely burned around the live material [37]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Following low-severity fires, bluejoint will typically sprout from on-site surviving rhizomes.  Buried or wind-dispersed seeds may be the primary source of plant establishment on severely burned sites [28,37]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: Light surface burning tends to increase the abundance of bluejoint [9,35,40].  Following a low-severity burn in a trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) woodland in southern Ontario, this species' frequency was twice as high on burned areas.  The abundance of bluejoint 4 months after the fires in 1973 was four times greater than in the control areas and two times greater than in areas burned in 1972 [35]. Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and the following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of many plant species, including bluejoint: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: When grazing pressure is light, litter accumulates rapidly [37]. Low-intensity fires can be used to remove this litter and improve forage quality [22].  Because of wet conditions in the spring and summer, successful burning of these communities is limited to the drier fall period [4].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis canadensis
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Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of        Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana        Riparian Association. 217 p. Draft Version 1.  [8447] 5.  Conn, Jeffery S.; Deck, Richard E. 1991. Bluejoint reedgrass        (Calamagrostis canadensis) control with glyphosate and additives. Weed        Technology. 5: 521-524.  [17408] 6.  Conn, Jeffery S.; Farris, Martha L. 1987. Seed viability and dormancy of        17 weed species after 21 months in Alaska. Weed Science. 35: 524-529;        1987.  [5] 7.  Crane, M. F.; Fischer, William C. 1986. Fire ecology of the forest        habitat types of central Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-218. Ogden, UT: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research        Station. 85 p.  [5297] 8.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. 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Population variation,        outcrossing, and colonization of disturbed areas by Calamagrostis        canadensis: evidence from allozyme analysis. American Journal of Botany.        78(8): 1123-1129.  [15475] 29.  Oldemeyer, J. L.; Franzmann, A. W.; Brundage, A. L.; [and others]. 1977.        Browse quality and the Kenai moose population. Journal of Wildlife        Management. 41(3): 533-542.  [12805] 30.  Padgett, Wayne G.; Youngblood, Andrew P.; Winward, Alma H. 1989.        Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho.        R4-Ecol-89-01. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Intermountain Region. 191 p.  [11360] 31.  Pfister, Robert D.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Arno, Stephen F.; Presby,        Richard C. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep.        INT-34. 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