reed canary grass

(Phalaris arundinacea)

Conservation Status
reed canary grass
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Weed Status

Reed canary grass is listed as an invasive terrestrial plant by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. However, it is not currently regulated in Minnesota.

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Reed canary grass plant often appears in dense colonies that crowd out all other species. It often dominates wet areas.

The blades are flat, ¼ to ¾ wide, and up to 20 long.

The ligule is a thin, papery membrane from just over to just over long. The margin is irregularly jagged, as if torn.

The inflorescence is 2½ to 7 long, usually 3 to 6, and is borne high above the leaves. It is always evidently branched, at least near the base; the branches are short. When immature, it is compact and resembles a spike. When in full flower, it is open and green or slightly purple or reddish. Later, it turns tan to whitish in color and closes up, becoming narrow and pointed.




24 to 80


Similar Species


Orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) has an inflorescence that is similar in appearance. However, the leaves are much narrower. The inflorescence is wider with a more blunt tip.

Bluejoint (Calamagrostis canadensis) has a ring of hairs just below the nodes.


Wet. Shallow marshes, river banks, roadside ditches; semi-open and open habitats.




May to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Poales (grasses, sedges, cattails, and allies)  


Poaceae (grasses)  
  No Rank BOP clade  
  Subfamily Pooideae  
  Supertribe Poodae  
  Tribe Poeae  
  Subtribe Phalaridinae  


Phalaris (canarygrasses)  



Phalaris arundinacea var. picta

Phalaroides arundinacea

Phalaroides arundinacea var. picta


Common Names


gardener’s garters

reed canary grass

reed Canarygrass

ribbon grass

variegated grass
















In grasses, a membranous appendage at the junction of the leaf and the leaf sheath.

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Greg Watson

    reed canary grass      



This grows prolifically in my shoreline buffer. Hoping it's not invasive.

    reed canary grass   reed canary grass  


    reed canary grass      


    reed canary grass   reed canary grass  


    reed canary grass      


    reed canary grass   reed canary grass  
    reed canary grass      


    reed canary grass   reed canary grass  
    reed canary grass      






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Other Videos
  Matanuska River Park
PalmerSWCD's channel

Uploaded on Jan 6, 2012

Initial Reed Canary Grass ID

  Environmental Laboratory - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Environmental Laboratory USACE

Published on Feb 15, 2013

Phalaris arundinacea - Reed Canarygrass

  Invasive Reed Canary Grass - Pennsylvania Forest Restoration Project
Chuck Ray

Published on May 18, 2013

Penn State plant scientist Art Gover explains a project to re-establish a streamside forest in place of invasive species that have dominated the area.




Visitor Sightings

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  Greg Watson

Location: Apple Blossom Overlook Park

reed canary grass  

Location: Lake Shore

reed canary grass  

Anna Gronseth Prairie

Antelope Valley SNA

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Belgium Prairie

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Mounds State Park

Buffalo River State Park

Bur Oak WMA

Butternut Valley Prairie SNA

Cambria WMA

Camden State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Cedar Rock SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Crystal Spring SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Felton WMA

Foxhome Prairie

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Greenwater Lake SNA

Hastings SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Itasca State Park

Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary SNA

Jensen Memorial WMA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kettledrummer Prairie

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Langhei Prairie SNA

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Malmberg Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Miller Prairie, West Unit

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Louisville Swamp Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Monson Lake State Park

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Ney Nature Center

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Spieker Unit

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Otter Tail Prairie SNA

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Pembina Trail Unit

Phelps Lake WMA

Pilot Knob

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Pipestone National Monument

Plover Prairie, East Unit

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Quarry Park SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

Roscoe Prairie SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Scenic State Park

Schaefer Prairie

Schoolcraft State Park

Sedan Brook SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Thompson County Park

Tiedemann WMA

Townsend Woods SNA

Tribute WMA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Tympanuchus Prairie

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Yellow Bank Hills SNA







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