reed canarygrass

Cyperales > Poaceae > Phalaris arundinacea L.
Synonym(s): reed canary grass

Reed canarygrass is a cool-season perennial grass that grows to 6 ft. (1.7 m) tall. Leaf blades are flat, 1-4 ft. (0.3-1.2 m) long, up to 3/4 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. Reed canarygrass is variable in morphology, so characteristics may depend upon the habitat. It spreads by seeds and rhizomes and can quickly dominate wetlands, ditches, prairie potholes and other sites with moist soil. Reed canarygrass can exclude all other vegetation and is extremely difficult to eradicate once established. Debate exists as to the nativity of reed canarygrass; 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.


Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

  • Weeds of the Week - USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Forest Health Protection

Selected Images from Invasive.org

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Flower(s); South Dakota
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Tom Heutte, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Jamie Nielsen, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Cooperative Extension Service, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); in flower
Jamie Nielsen, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Cooperative Extension Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Jamie Nielsen, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Cooperative Extension Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; Iowa
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; The darker colored patch of grass in the low area of this pasture is all reed canarygrass. South Dakota
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s);
Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Diagram or Graphic; Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950. Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Misc. Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Diagram or Graphic; Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 1: 170.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Invasive Reference(s):

Check Invasive.org for most current lists.
  • Massachusetts - Noxious Weed Law
  • Washington - Noxious Weed Law
  • Mid-Atlantic - EPPC List
  • Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
  • Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England


External Links


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