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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Calamagrostis canadensis Western Herbaceous Vegetation

Common Name:
Bluejoint reedgrass Wet Meadow

Community Description

This type occurs widely throughout mountainous areas of the western United States and probably into Canada. In Colorado, these grasslands are a relatively small, meadow association that occurs in broad glaciated valleys, openings in moist forests, silted-in beaver ponds, and narrow floodplains of lower montane canyons. It generally has few shrubs and fairly dense cover of grasses dominated by Calamagrostis canadensis. ^Information on stands outside of Colorado will be added later.

The Calamagrostis canadensis association is found in montane to subalpine habitats in the mountains of Montana. It is typically found in a variety of settings: depressional landforms as one of the outer bands (i.e. the drawdown zone) of vegetation, wet meadows, adjacent to streamcourses, on alluvial terraces, and moist forest openings. Soils in basin settings are generally loamy mineral soils, while those along low gradient streams are usually coarse textured alluviums. Calamagrostis canadensis communities usually flood in the spring and dry down by mid-summer. Adjacent wetter communities are often dominated by Carex aquatilis or Carex utriculata and adjacent drier vegetation is usually upland coniferous forest (Hansen et al. 1988, Hansen et al. 1995).

Calamagrostis canadensis is the dominant species in this community, with canopy coverage averaging 70% (Hansen et al. 1995). Though this association is apparently most abundantly documented for Montana (38 stands), one must be cautious when interpreting the data of Hansen et al. (1995). They show Calamagrostis canadensis and Calamagrostis stricta to be mutually exclusive (their respective constancy values sum to 100%) and thus one cannot determine if some of the associated species are more aligned with one or the other of the Calamagrostis spp. Traces of conifers and shrubs can be found in this association. Deschampsia cespitosa and Carex utriculata are the most frequently associated graminoids with the greatest cover values. Forbs usually occur at low coverage but in wide variety, including most commonly Senecio triangularis, Viola spp. and Epilobium ciliatum.

This community is found in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and eastern Oregon.

Palatability of Calamagrostis canadensis varies from moderate to high. Heavy grazing can reduce the vigor of this grass and lead to an increase of exotic graminoids, including Poa pratensis, Poa palustris, Agrostis stolonifera, Phalaris arundinacea and the native Juncus balticus. Heavily grazed wetter sites can become dominated by Juncus balticus or Carex nebrascensis. Hansen et al. (1995) also state that moderate late-season grazing of Calamagrostis canadensis limits the impact on stands, especially when soils are dry.

Global Rank: G4 State Rank: S4

Community References


99-10-12 / J. Greenlee, MTNHP

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This information is from the:
Montana Natural Heritage Program
Montana State Library--Natural Resource Information System
1515 East Sixth Ave., Helena, MT 59620-1800
406 444-5354