Phalaris arundinacea L.
Reed Canary Grass
Poaceae (Grass Family)
Synonym(s): Phalaris arundinacea var. picta, Phalaroides arundinacea, Phalaroides arundinacea var. picta
USDA Symbol: phar3
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.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 7 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
BenefitWarning: Some Phacelia species produce a skin irritation in sensitive people, similar to that of poison oak or poison ivy.
Larval Host: Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor)
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Least Skipper |
Learn more at BAMONA
National Wetland Indicator Status
BibliographyBibref 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
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Phalaris arundinacea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Phalaris arundinacea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Phalaris arundinacea
MetadataRecord Modified: 2016-02-01
Research By: TWC Staff