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Photo: Specimen sheet of Boreal Bentgrass

Agrostis mertensii Trin.

Boreal Bentgrass

Habitat: Alpine areas, gravelly or rocky substrates. [Alpine or subalpine (non-forested, upland)]

Range: Circumboreal, south to Quebec and the higher mountains of northern New England and northern New York.

Photo: Boreal Bentgrass in alpine habitat

Aids to Identification:This densely tufted perennial grass grows to 50 cm in height, smaller in alpine areas. The majority of the leaves are clustered at the base and they are flat or curved in at the edges, 1-3 mm wide. The spikelets bear only one floret and are purplish, with the lemma bearing a bent awn.

Ecological characteristics: Growing in Maine on exposed rocky summits and balds.

Photo: Specimen sheet of Boreal Bentgrass showing inflorescence

Phenology: Fruits July - August.

Family: Poaceae

Synonyms: Formerly known as Agrostis borealis Hartman.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 8 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook, Oxford, Piscataquis, Somerset.

Dates of documented observations are: 1877, 1900, 1919, 1953, 1980, 1981, 1984 (3), 1994, 1997, 2000, 2002 (2)

Reason(s) for rarity: An arctic/alpine species disjunct from principal range; habitat naturally scarce.

Conservation considerations: Populations could be threatened by heavy recreational (hiking) use.