En EspaŅol
Phalaris arundinacea (Reed canarygrass) | NPIN

NPIN: Native Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Search native plant database:
See a list of all Plants

Phalaris arundinacea (Reed canarygrass)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Phalaris arundinacea

Reed canarygrass, Reed Canary Grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

USDA Symbol: PHAR3

USDA Native Status:

Grows in large patches, the flowering stalks jutting in a uniform layer over the leaves, which also grow to a uniform height. The flower stalks do not persist long after flowering.

This grass is much planted for hay but is also naturally established. Like many marsh plants, Reed Canary Grass spreads by rhizomes and soon forms large patches. The inflorescences can be mistaken for those of Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata), but they are more fragile and smooth-textured, and the growth habit is different: Orchard Grass grows in distinct clumps on drier soil. A cultivated variety of Reed Canary Grass, Phalaris arundinacea Picta with white stripes on the leaves, is known as Ribbon Grass and is often planted in gardens.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AK , AL , 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 , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Maine to Virginia, west to Washington and California.
Native Habitat: Low, wet places, riverbanks, marshes.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium


Warning: Some Phacelia species produce a skin irritation in sensitive people, similar to that of poison oak or poison ivy.
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor)

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Phalaris arundinacea is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Least Skipper
(Ancyloxypha numitor)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Recommended Species Lists

Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.

View Recommended Species page

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2011-01-21
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center