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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Phalaris arundinacea L.)

Reed canary grass
Reed canary grass

GRASS FAMILY (Gramineae or Poaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A colonial, perennial grass with stout, branched stems and a large, dry, papery structure (ligule). Leaves are flat, and usually between 10-15 mm. wide. Panicles are branched or lobed. The stalked spikelets are all similar and form dense clusters. The lower florets are sterile and usually hard to see. The lance- like glumes are compressed, wingless, and 4-6.5 mm. long. The lemmas are awnless and shorter than the glumes.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Reed canary grass is an extremely aggressive species that often forms persistent, monotypic stands on sites disturbed by agricultural use, drainage, filling, siltation, and other factors. It is found in a variety of disturbed wetlands including inland fresh meadows, shrub swamps, and wooded swamps. Although typically associated with disturbed wetlands, this species can occasionally colonize disturbed upland sites. Reed canary grass has been planted for erosion control on upland and wetland sites, and for lowland pasture. The European strain of this grass has essentiaily assimilated the native strain.

SOURCE: Fassett (1951); and Gleason and Cronquist (1991).

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