Phalaris arundinacea (Reed Canary Grass)
|Also known as:||Reed Canarygrass|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; any moist soil; wetlands, fields, woods|
|Bloom season:||late spring to early summer|
|Plant height:||2 to 5 feet|
|USDA PLANTS database:||Minnesota county distribution map|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
The grasshead can be 3 to 8 inches long, densly clustered spikelets on ½ to 1½ inch branches. Color is green, turning purplish, and upon maturity the seed heads collapse tightly against the stem, to roughly 3/8 inch wide, and take on a pale bleached tan color.
Leaves and stem:
The grass stem (the culm) is smooth, simple (no branches) and erect. The blades are up to 10 inches long and ¾ inch wide. The grass blades have a long sheath at their base that encloses the stem and are less than half the length of the internodes. Blades are smooth and the entire upper vegetative portion of this species fades to a pale, bleached tan that is diagnostic in the dormant season identification.
Notes:This is perhaps the single most destructive, invasive wetland species in Minnesota to date. One of its field identifying characteristics is that it is so everywhere! The stems and leaves eventually collapse into a sprawling mat that is difficult to traverse by humans and wildlife alike and is essentially useless for nesting habitat. Developed by university and other crop “improvement” plant breeders, the introduction of foreign genotypes into our native reed canarygrass populations has produced a robust species indeed. Touted as a wet meadow hay crop and soil nutrient management tool, it is an exceedingly toxic pill for limited returns. While it may share some space for Canada thistle, perennial sowthistle and little else, its dense stands, voracious root systems and persistent seed bank make it a resource manager's nightmare. Though it has limited commercial seed production in Minnesota it is widely distributed throughout Minnesota, the US and the world.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- sprouting Reed Canary Grass
- early season Reed Canary Grass
- flowering Reed Canary Grass along a lake shore
- Reed Canary Grass in an open field
- Reed Canary Grass at a woodland edge
- Reed Canary Grass infesting a wetland restoration area
- choked woodlands affect forest succession
- a green impenetrable wall of Reed Canary Grass
- a dormant stand of Reed Canary Grass
- more dormant Reed Canary Grass
- winter Reed Canary Grass
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk and K. Chayka, taken at various locations in MN--it's everywhere!
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?