Liu, Y. and Coulman, B. E. 2015. Morphological and agronomic variation of Puccinellia nuttalliana populations from the Canadian Great Plains. Can. J. Plant Sci. 95: 67-76. Native grass species are adapted to local environments and have the potential for development as forage or turf grass cultivars for semiarid environments. Nuttall's alkali grass [Puccinellia nuttalliana (Shultes) Hitchc.] is a salt-tolerant grass with potential for forage or turf use, and is widely distributed across western North America. Understanding the morphological and agronomic variability of this species is a prerequisite for developing populations suitable for dry and saline regions of western Canada. A collection of 24 Puccinellia nuttalliana populations from the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were established in a field nursery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Plant height, crown diameter, tiller number, seed yield, dry matter yield, leaf colour, leaf length, leaf width, spring growth and late summer regrowth of individual plants or plots were measured for each collection in 2011 and 2012. Significant variation was found among the 24 populations for all measured characters in both years. The populations Eston and Westbourne09 had taller plants with greater basal diameter, high tiller number, and high seed and dry matter yields, which suggest they may be useful for forage purposes. The population St. Denis had shorter plants with more tillers, greater basal diameter darker green leaf colour and high seed yields; thus, it may useful as a turfgrass. Within certain populations, individual genotypes were identified which would have potential for production of synthetic cultivars for forage or turf purposes. Cluster analysis was conducted using the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) and principal coordinate analysis (PCoA). These analyses showed six distinct groups within the collected populations; however, there was no distinguishable pattern of clustering of populations by region.
Nuttall's alkali grass