Shoreline Plants  

 
Species: Phalaris arundinacea L., reed canarygrass
Family: Poaceae

Reed canarygrass is an invasive, tall, coarse looking, perennial grass that commonly forms extensive single-species stands along the margins of lakes and streams and in wet open areas. The stems can reach 2 m in height. Leaf blades are blue-green when fresh and straw-colored when dry. The flowers are borne on the stem high above the leaves and are pinkish at full bloom.

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Leaf: Flat, blue-green leaves are rough to the touch, to 30 cm long, and relatively wide (to 17 mm).

Stem: The hollow round stem is covered with a waxy coating and is up to 1 cm in diameter.

Flower: Each flower group (spikelet) has 3 flowers. These spikelets are located in dense clusters that are 2-40 cm long and to 11 cm wide. Blooms June through August.

Fruit: Dry and one-seeded, with a conspicuously glossy tan surface; 1.5-2 mm long and less than 1 mm wide.

Root: Long and fibrous. Emerging from the nodes of long, stout, scaly, pinkish rhizomes.

Propagation: Seeds, rhizomes.

Importance of plant: Invasive in wetlands, where it outcompetes native species. Dense stands cause flooding in streams and ditches. Eaten by only a few wildlife species, it grows too densely to be used as cover for waterfowl. Grown as cattle forage, particularly in eastern Washington. A major pollen contributor during the allergy season.

Distribution: Native to Eurasia. Introduced to North America in all but the extreme southeastern United States and Mexico.

Habitat: Wet meadows, marshes, pastures, lakes margins, and ditches. Tolerates short term flooding.

May be confused with: Other shoreline grasses, such as common reed (Phragmites australis) which is usually larger (to 3 m tall) and has a more open flower cluster; reed mannagrass (Glyceria grandis) which has less dense and more open diffuse flower clusters; tall fescue (FestucaNon-Native Icon arundinacea) which has narrower leaves (4 to 10 mm wide) and a non-rhizomatous habit; and orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) which has flower clusters attached to only one side of the flowering stems, is not rhizomatous ,and usually grows on dryer sites.


Photographs:
Phalaris arundinacea, lots of photographs at this site: http://www.erowid.org/plants/phalaris/phalaris_images.shtml

Line Drawings: None available 


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