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Reed Canarygrass

Reed Canary Grass, Phalaris arundinacea, photo by Wasowski, Sally and Andy.

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Common Name: Reed canarygrass
Scientific Name: Phalaris arundinacea
Origin: Asia and Europe


Reed canarygrass can reach 5 ft. in height. Its leaves are hairless, reaching up to 10” long and 1⁄4″ to 1⁄3″ wide. This grass has an extensive root system and spreads primarily through rhizomes, but also produces a high number of seeds. The prominent, entire ligule (the translucent membrane where the blade meets the stalk) is a distinguishing feature.


Reed canarygrass grows extensively in sunny, wet areas such as wetlands, meadows, stream banks and the edges of lakes and ponds.


Reed canarygrass threatens wetlands, where it grows in dense stands and forms dense rhizome mats that crowd out native vegetation. It does not provide adequate forage or cover for wildlife. Often the first colonizer of wet disturbed ground, which threatens restoration sites.


Successful management plans for reed canarygrass will often involve combining multiple control methods. Mowing followed by herbicide application can be successful. Herbicide treatments are very effective in the fall, after the first frost and prior to the plant going dormant for winter. Geo-textile fabric may be appropriate for smaller stands, however, plants may emerge from the edges of the fabric and continue to spread.

Regional Distribution


WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 4 – Local Control

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart


Reed canarygrass was introduced through Agriculture and the Nursery and Landscaping industry, originally planted for erosion control and forage. Since it is planted at disturbed sites, such as construction sites, reed canarygrass is often accidentally spread through contact with construction equipment and mowers.