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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)
Lytle, Melody

Elymus canadensis

Elymus canadensis L.

Canada wild rye, Canadian wildrye, Prairie wildrye, Nodding wildrye

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Elymus brachystachys, Elymus canadensis var. brachystachys, Elymus canadensis var. hirsutus, Elymus canadensis var. robustus, Elymus crescendus, Elymus philadelphicus, Elymus philadelphicus var. hirsutus, Elymus robustus

USDA Symbol: ELCA4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The erect or arching stems of this cool-seaon, short-lived perennial grow 2-4 ft. tall. Terminal, spike-shaped seedheads of oat-like seeds with long, bristly awns, cause the stems to bend and droop.

Canada wild rye establishes easily, providing quick initial cover. It is a versatile, cool-season plant, requiring little to no maintenance. It displays heavy, whiskery, nodding seed heads in early fall.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Spike
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 2 to 6 feet tall
Leaf: Green
Flower:
Fruit: Green to tan
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun

Distribution

USA: AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , MB , NB , NS , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Que. to B.C., s. to NC, TX, AZ & e. of the Cascades to n. CA. Absent from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Most common in the northern reaches of its range and at high altitudes.
Native Habitat: Grasslands, ravines, depressions, verges, open woodlands, ditches, fencerows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, porous, acid or calcareous sand, loam, clay, or limestone
Conditions Comments: Prefers a moist soil. Can take half a day of shade. More drought-tolerant than Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii); less drought-tolerant than Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha). Requires more sun than Virginia Wildrye (Elymus virginicus).

Benefit

Use Ornamental: A good bunchgrass for partly shady prairie plantings.
Use Wildlife: Nesting material, Seeds-granivorous birds, Seeds-Small mammals. Fair forage.
Use Food: Seed consumed by Gosiute Indians.
Use Other: Very palatable and nutritious, readily consumed by livestock, providing good early spring cattle grazing. Cut seed stalks used in dried arrangements.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: For Zabulon skipper butterfly
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Elymus canadensis is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Zabulon Skipper
(Poanes zabulon)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Plant or divide in autumn. Sow seed on top of soil as seed needs light to germinate.
Seed Treatment: Benefits from cold-moist stratification for two weeks.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

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August 07, 2008
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June 03, 2008
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May 30, 2008
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National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FAC FAC FACU FACU FACU FACU FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge - Wimberley, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
North American Native Plant Society - Etobicoke, ON
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0807 Collected May 29, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0355 Collected May 19, 1993 in Bexar County by Louise Morrell
NPSOT 1036 Collected Jun 6, 1995 in Bexar County by Mike Fox

3 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-31 Collected 2006-05-24 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Elymus canadensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Elymus canadensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Elymus canadensis

Metadata

Record Modified: 2012-12-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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