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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Northern Bentgrass - Agrostis mertensii
Other Names:  Agrostis borealis

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3?
(see State Rank Reason below)
C-value: 6

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Few collections from Montana. Probably undercollected due to small stature, demure appearance and difficulty of accessing its alpine habitat.
General Description
Perennial bunchgrass. Stems 10–40 cm. Leaves: blades 1–3 mm wide, ligules 1–3 mm long. Inflorescence 5–15 cm long, of narrow but open panicles. Spikelets 2.5–3 mm long. Lemmas 2.4–2.8 mm long, bearing a straight or bent awn, 2.5–3 mm long, from above the middle; palea absent or minute (Lavin in Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Fruiting in August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Among species of Agrostis that occur above timberline, including A. humilis and A. idahoensis, this is the only one with a narrow panicle and an awned lemma. A. scabra may also grow in alpine situations, but has an open panicle and paler spikelets. A hand lens or microscope and technical key are needed for positive identification.

Species Range

Range Comments
Throughout all of Canada, New England, and AK, south along the Rocky Mountains, and disjunct in central Appalachia (Lavin in Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 2

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist meadows above timberline.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lackschewitz, K. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. U.S. Forest Service Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 648 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Northern Bentgrass — Agrostis mertensii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from