Poa foliosa


Poa: meadow grass
foliosa: leafy

Common Name(s)

Muttonbird Poa

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR, SO


Poa foliosa (Hook.f.) Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Festuca foliosa Hook.f.; Poa foliosa (Hook.f.) Hook.f. var. foliosa; Festuca foliosa var. â Hook.f.


Endemic. New Zealand: Stewart (north-eastern Titi Islands), Solander, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, and Macquarie (Australian Territory but part of the New Zealand Botanical region)


Coastal, usually near sea bird nesting grounds, often on steep slopes, sometimes in turf near shore.


Dioecious, robust, green tussocks up to 1.5 m tall, arising from short, narrow, woody stolons, with shoots covered at base by abundant fibrous remnants of sheaths. Branching extravaginal; leaf-blades persistent. Leaf-sheath light brown, coriaceous, glabrous, closely striate, keel prominent above. Ligule 1-3 mm, apically glabrous, entire, rounded, abaxially finely scabrid. Leaf-blade 150-500 x 1-6 mm, coriaceous, tough, flat, abaxially smooth with prominent midrib and many lateral ribs, adaxially short-scabrid, bearing two prominent ridges along centre; margins thickened, smooth, tip entire, smooth, semi-pungent. Culm 200-600 mm, internodes glabrous. Panicle 100-250 mm, dense, with all branches, except the longer ones, bearing spikelets almost to base; rachis and branches mostly smooth. Spikelets 5.5-9.0 mm, 3-6-flowered, light greenish brown. Glumes subequal, long-acuminate, membranous, except for thickened nerves, smooth, but with a few prickle-teeth on nerves above and occasionally on margins; lower 3-6 mm, 1-3-nerved, narrow-lanceolate, upper 4.0-6.5 mm, 3-nerved, narrow elliptic-lanceolate. Lemma 5-7 mm, 5-nerved, acute or with midnerve very shortly excurrent, scabrid except near base, midnerve ciliate to more than halfway, outer lateral nerves, internerves, and margins with minute hairs in lower 1/3. Palea 3.5-4.5 mm, keel rather densely ciliate-scabrid, interkeel and flanks with sparse minute hairs and prickle-teeth. Callus with large tuft of crinkled hairs just below midnerve of lemma. Rachilla c.0.5 mm, glabrous. Lodicules 0.4-0.7 mm, rarely hair-tipped. Dioecious: male with anthers 2.0-3.3 mm, gynoecium 0; female with pollen-sterile anthers c.0.6-1.0 mm, often on long filaments; stigma-styles c.2 mm; seed 2 mm; rarely perfect.

Similar Taxa

Similar to Poa tennantiana Petrie which is a superficially similar southern New Zealand robust grass of coastal areas, especially near sea bird nesting grounds. Poa tennantiana differs from P. foliosa by its monoecious rather than dioecious habit, yellow-green rather than green leaves, by the lower leaf-sheaths scabrid between the nerves, rather than smooth, and by the glabrous rather than hairy (hairs crinkly in a prominent tuft) callus


October - December


November - April

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. Dislikes humidity and will not flower or thrive in warm climates.


Not Threatened. Listed because it is a narrow range, offshore island endemic. It is abundant in its known locations with no obvious threats.

Chromosome No.

2n = 28

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description modified from Edgar and Connor (2000).

References and further reading

Edgar, E.; Connor, H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. V. Grasses. Christchurch, Manaaki Whenua Press. 650 pp.

This page last updated on 28 Mar 2015