Reed Canarygrass

Reed Canarygrass - Phalaris arundinacea

General Description
Reed canarygrass is a cool-season perennial grass growing 2 to 9 feet tall. It is one of the first grasses to sprout in the spring. This plant lives in wet meadows and swamps and along streams. Reed canarygrass can form monocultures that dominate wetlands for decades, excluding all other plant species.

Identification
Leaves are flat, rough-textured, and tapered, measuring 3½ to 10 inches long. The stem is hairless and stands erect. Seeds are purplish early in the season, turning to yellow in June and July. Look for a clear sheath where the leaf attaches to the stem.

Origin
Botanists believe there are both native and non-native strains of reed canarygrass. The non-native strain originates from the Mediterranean region and was introduced into North American agricultural areas by European settlers.

How It Spreads
This grass produces stems from creeping, root-like rhizomes that create dense single-species mats. It also reproduces by seed.

Control Methods
In June and October, repeated digging or hand-pulling may be effective for smaller patches. Larger infestations should be treated with herbicide. Spray foliage with a 2% glyphosate solution in early spring before native plants sprout.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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