Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Phalaris arundinacea
reed canarygrass

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east across North America, except for extreme southern U.S., to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Stream banks, meadows, fields, roadsides, irrigation ditches, and other disturbed open places from low elevations to nearly the subalpine.

Flowers: June-July

Origin: Introduced from Europe

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Strongly rhizomatous perennial, the culms hollow, 7-14 dm. tall.


Sheaths open; ligules 4-10 mm. long, obtuse; blades flat, 7-17 mm. broad.


Inflorescence a compact panicle 8-15 cm. long, but the branches somewhat spreading; spikelets 3-flowered, strongly compressed, the uppermost floret perfect, the lower two represented by sterile lemmas; glumes slightly unequal, 4.5-5 mm. long, acute, 3-nerved; sterile lemmas 1-1.5 mm. long, brownish, hairy; fertile lemma 3-4 mm. long, subglabrous, 5-nerved; palea subequal to the lemma, 2-nerved.

Accepted Name:
Phalaris arundinacea L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 55. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Phalaris arundinacea L. var. picta L. [HC]
Phalaroides arundinacea (L.) Rauschert
Phalaroides arundinacea (L.) Rauschert var. picta (L.) Tzvelev
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Phalaris arundinacea in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Phalaris arundinacea checklist entry

OregonFlora: Phalaris arundinacea information

E-Flora BC: Phalaris arundinacea atlas page

CalPhotos: Phalaris arundinacea photos

59 photographs:
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