Reed canary grass is a coarse, but somewhat attractive perennial that can grow up to a height of six feet. It has long, flat leaves that are green with a sooty-gray hue, about 1/2 inch wide, and spread out from the stem at a tight angle. Flowers and grains grow in dense branched clusters, which turn purplish as the plant matures in spring and fade to straw color in late summer.
Considered as a good forage plant, reed canary grass was introduced from Eurasia. It has been used for pasture, silage, and hay, as well as filtration for water pollution control. Even the seeds were used as a food source for birds.
Reed canary grass invades moist areas such as meadows and lake shores. It also grows in poorly drained areas and along stream and canal banks. With its rhizomic root structure, it forces out other plants, reducing biodiversity.
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See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.
Last updated: March 22, 2018