reed canarygrass
Phalaris arundinacea L.


Phalaris arundinacea is a cool-season perennial grass that grows to 6 ft. (1.7 m) tall. Reed canarygrass is variable in morphology, so characteristics may depend upon the habitat.
Leaf blades are flat, 1-4 ft. (0.3-1.2 m) long, up to 0.75 in. (1.9 cm) wide, glabrous and taper gradually. The ligule is membranous (transparent) and long.
The spreading flower/seed heads arise from hairless stems and can be green, purple, or brown in color and usually 3-6 in. (7.6-15.2 cm) in length. Flowering occurs from May to July.
The inflorescence color changes from green to purplish to tan as the seeds mature. There are both sterile and fertile lemmas.
Ecological Threat
Phalaris arundinacea can quickly dominate wetlands, ditches, prairie potholes, and other sites with moist soil. It can exclude all other vegetation and is extremely difficult to eradicate once established. Nativity of this plant is debated; it is native to Europe and possibly parts of Asia, but it may also be native to the northwestern United States. Aggressive behavior that is exhibited in many parts of the central and western United States may be a result of escaped cultivars that were bred for vigor and quick growth.


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EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Phalaris
Subject: Phalaris arundinacea L.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
reed canary grass

Related Scientific Names:
Phalaroides arundinacea L. (Synonym)


Plants - Aquatic Plants