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The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.




Phalaris arundinacea
Phalaris arundinacea
(reed canarygrass)
Plants
Exotic
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Phalaris arundinacea L.

Common name: reed canarygrass

Synonyms and Other Names: Reed canarygrass, canary grass, ribbon grass, gardener’s garters, speargrass, Phalaroides arundinacea (L.), Typhoides arundinacea, Phalaroides arundinacea spp. japonica (Steud.) Tzvelv, Phalaroides arundinacea var. picta (L.) Tzvelev

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Morphology varies based on the characteristics of the habitat it is found it (Kurtz and Hansen 2014). General characteristics include large, coarse grass with an erect, hairless stem and gradually tapering leaf blades. Blades are flat and have a rough texture on both surfaces. The lead ligule is membranous and long. The compact panicles are erect or slightly spreading (depending on the plant's reproductive stage), and range from 7 to 40 centimeters long with branches from 5 to 30 centimeters in length. Single flowers occur in dense clusters in May to mid-June. Flowers are green to purple at first and change to beige over time. This grass is one of the first to sprout in spring, and forms a thick rhizome system that dominates the subsurface soil. Seeds are shiny brown in color (WI DNR 2009).

Size: Ranges from 0.6 to 2.8 meters in height. Leaf blades are 8 to 25 centimeters long and 65 to 190 mm in width.

Native Range: Phalaris arundinacea is a circumboreal species (Larson 1993). In North America, this species is common throughout most of southern Alaska and Canada, as well as all but the southeastern portion of the U.S. (Hitchcock et al. 1969). There is both confusion and controversy surrounding the native range of reed canarygrass in North America (Waggy 2010). This species has both native and introduced populations in close proximity since it is both native to North America and has had European transplants cultivated for agricultural use (Waggy 2010). In general, Phalaris arundinacea is treated as a native species in North America (Waggy 2010) and in the Great Lakes region with gene influence from non-indigenous populations (Huffman et al. 1986, Reuter 1986, Howe 2000, Maurer et al. 2003, Czarapata 2005).

Its native range has been hard to decipher until recently when DNA samples confirmed the presence of distinct populations present in North America that are not present in Europe or Asia (Jakubowski et al. 2013). Jakubowski et al. (2013) solidified Phalaris arundinacea as a native to North America from Alaska through New Brunswick, Canada.

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Phalaris arundinacea are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AK2000201923Admiralty Island; Anchorage; Baranof Island; Bradfield Canal; Burroughs Bay; Chichagof Island; Chilkat-Skagway Rivers; Eastern Prince William Sound; Etolin-Zarembo-Wrangell Islands; Glacier Bay; Headwaters Portland Canal; Holkham Bay; Ketchikan; Kuiu-Kupreanof-Mitkof Islands; Lower Copper River; Lower Kenai Peninsula; Lynn Canal; Matanuska; Palma Bay; Prince of Wales; Stikine River; Upper Kenai Peninsula; Yakutat Bay-Gulf of Alaska
CA201520151Middle Fork Eel
ID200920101South Fork Clearwater
IL1932201811Big Muddy; Cache; Des Plaines; Kankakee; Lower Ohio-Bay; Rock; Saline; Upper Fox; Upper Illinois; Upper Mississippi Region; Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau
IN1998201612Blue-Sinking; Chicago; Kankakee; Little Calumet-Galien; Lower East Fork White; Muscatatuck; Patoka; St. Joseph; St. Joseph; St. Marys; Tippecanoe; Upper Wabash
MI1838201963Au Gres-Rifle; Au Sable; Betsie-Platte; Betsy-Chocolay; Black; Black-Macatawa; Black-Presque Isle; Boardman-Charlevoix; Brevoort-Millecoquins; Brule; Carp-Pine; Cedar-Ford; Cheboygan; Clinton; Dead-Kelsey; Detroit; Escanaba; Fishdam-Sturgeon; Flint; Great Lakes Region; Huron; Kalamazoo; Kawkawlin-Pine; Keweenaw Peninsula; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake Michigan; Lake St. Clair; Lake Superior; Little Calumet-Galien; Lone Lake-Ocqueoc; Lower Grand; Manistee; Manistique; Menominee; Michigamme; Muskegon; Northeastern Lake Michigan; Northwestern Lake Huron; Ontonagon; Ottawa-Stony; Pere Marquette-White; Pigeon-Wiscoggin; Pine; Raisin; Saginaw; Saginaw; Shiawassee; Southcentral Lake Superior; Southeastern Lake Michigan; Southwestern Lake Huron; St. Clair; St. Clair-Detroit; St. Joseph; St. Marys; Sturgeon; Tacoosh-Whitefish; Tahquamenon; Thornapple; Thunder Bay; Tittabawassee; Upper Grand; Waiska
MN1964201877Baptism-Brule; Beartrap-Nemadji; Beaver-Lester; Big Fork; Blue Earth; Bois De Sioux; Buffalo; Buffalo-Whitewater; Cannon; Chippewa; Clearwater; Clearwater-Elk; Cloquet; Coon-Yellow; Cottonwood; Crow; Crow Wing; Des Moines Headwaters; East Fork Des Moines; Eastern Wild Rice; Elk-Nokasippi; Elm-Marsh; Hawk-Yellow Medicine; Kettle; La Crosse-Pine; Lac Qui Parle; Lake of the Woods; Lake Superior; Le Sueur; Leech Lake; Little Fork; Little Sioux; Long Prairie; Lower Big Sioux; Lower Minnesota; Lower Rainy; Lower St. Croix; Middle Minnesota; Middle Red; Mississippi Headwaters; Mustinka; Otter Tail; Pine; Platte-Spunk; Pomme De Terre; Prairie-Willow; Rainy Headwaters; Rainy Lake; Rapid; Red Lake; Red Lakes; Redeye; Redwood; Rock; Root; Roseau; Rum; Rush-Vermillion; Sandhill-Wilson; Sauk; Shell Rock; Snake; Snake; South Fork Crow; St. Louis; Thief; Twin Cities; Two Rivers; Upper Cedar; Upper Des Moines; Upper Iowa; Upper Minnesota; Upper Red; Upper St. Croix; Vermilion; Watonwan; Zumbro
MO201620181Tarkio-Wolf
MT200320185Flathead Lake; North Fork Flathead; South Fork Flathead; Stillwater; Swan
NH200120085Lower Androscoggin; Pemigewasset; Saco; Upper Connecticut-Mascoma; Waits
NY2003201520Black; Buffalo-Eighteenmile; Chaumont-Perch; Chemung; Chenango; Grass; Irondequoit-Ninemile; Lake Ontario; Lower Genesee; Mohawk; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Oneida; Owego-Wappasening; Salmon-Sandy; Saranac River; Seneca; Southwestern Lake Ontario; St. Lawrence; Upper Allegheny; Upper Genesee
NC201920192Hiwassee; Lower Little Tennessee
OH2006201820Ashtabula-Chagrin; Auglaize; Black-Rocky; Blanchard; Cedar-Portage; Cuyahoga; Grand; Hocking; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Little Scioto-Tygarts; Lower Maumee; Mahoning; Mohican; Raccoon-Symmes; Sandusky; Tiffin; Tuscarawas; Upper Scioto; Upper Wabash
OR1994201931Alsea; Beaver-South Fork; Clackamas; Goose Lake; Illinois; Lake Abert; Little Deschutes; Lost; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Grande Ronde; Lower John Day; Mckenzie; Middle Fork John Day; Middle Fork Willamette; North Santiam; Siletz-Yaquina; Siltcoos; Silvies; Siuslaw; South Santiam; Sprague; Umpqua; Upper Deschutes; Upper John Day; Upper Klamath; Upper Klamath Lake; Upper Malheur; Wallowa; Warner Lakes; Williamson; Wilson-Trusk-Nestuccu
PA200320185Clarion; French; Lake Erie; Middle Allegheny-Tionesta; Upper Allegheny
VT200720071Hudson-Hoosic
WA1994201959Banks Lake; Chief Joseph; Colville; Crescent-Hoko; Deschutes; Dungeness-Elwha; Duwamish; Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake; Grays Harbor; Hoh-Quillayute; Hood Canal; Kettle; Lake Chelan; Lake Washington; Lewis; Little Spokane; Lower Chehalis; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Cowlitz; Lower Crab; Lower Skagit; Lower Snake-Tucannon; Lower Spokane; Lower Yakima; Methow; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Naches; Nisqually; Nooksack; Okanogan; Palouse; Pend Oreille; Puget Sound; Puyallup; Queets-Quinault; Rock; San Juan Islands; Sanpoil; Sauk; Similkameen; Skokomish; Skykomish; Snohomish; Snoqualmie; Stillaguamish; Strait of Georgia; Upper Chehalis; Upper Columbia-Entiat; Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids; Upper Cowlitz; Upper Crab; Upper Skagit; Upper Spokane; Upper Yakima; Walla Walla; Wenatchee; Willapa Bay
WV200420165Cheat; Gauley; Greenbrier; South Branch Potomac; Tygart Valley
WI2001201937Bad-Montreal; Beartrap-Nemadji; Black; Black-Presque Isle; Brule; Castle Rock; Door-Kewaunee; Duck-Pensaukee; Flambeau; Fox; Jump; Lake Dubay; Lake Michigan; Lake Superior; Lake Winnebago; Lower Chippewa; Lower Fox; Lower St. Croix; Lower Wisconsin; Manitowoc-Sheboygan; Menominee; Milwaukee; Namekagon; Northwestern Lake Michigan; Oconto; Peshtigo; Pike-Root; Red Cedar; South Fork Flambeau; St. Louis; Upper Chippewa; Upper Fox; Upper Fox; Upper Rock; Upper St. Croix; Upper Wisconsin; Wolf

Table last updated 3/7/2021

† Populations may not be currently present.


Ecology: Phalaris arundinacea grows in saturated or nearly saturated soils but not where standing water persists for extended periods of time. While it doesn’t originally establish in areas inundated with water, Phalaris arundinacea can tolerate periods of inundation once established (Weinmann et al. 1984).

Phalaris arundinacea occurs in many wetland communities including wet meadows, prairie potholes, marshes, riparian areas, and peatlands (Waggy 2010). Reed canarygrass spreads quickly by rhizomes (Hitchcock 1951) which originate below ground. They begin growing in early spring (April) and decline in mid-August (Hutchinson 1992). Large quantities of pollen are produced for wind pollination (Merigliano and Lesica 1998) and flowering increases throughout the season and with longer daylight hours. Seed dispersal is passive and does form a soil seed bank (Preuninger and Umbanhower 1994); seeds remain viable in the soil for more than one year (Leck 1996).

Means of Introduction: Human activity best explains the range expansion of Phalaris arundinacea in North America. It has been cultivated for use as hay and for forage for livestock (Hitchcock 1951). It has been extensively cultivated and is considered good forage for livestock, particularly cattle but its ability to survive under continuous grazing is questionable (Kilbride and Paveglio 1999). Reed canarygrass can be used for erosion control, shoreline stabilization, and pollutant filtration (Marten 1985). In the past, it has been recommended for revegetation of disturbed sites (e.g. pipeline corridors (Cody et al. 2000), firelines (Bolstad 1971), and recently burned sites (Slinkard et al. 1970)). Future use in revegetation projects will likely be reconsidered since reed canarygrass can dominate a site and almost all populations have some nonnative genes (Howe 1999). This species has extended its native range throughout North America by taking advantage of disturbed wetland habitats (Zedler and Kercher 2004). Once Phalaris arundinacea invades, it establishes dense, single species stands that pose a threat to wetlands since it grows so quickly that competing species are inhibited and eliminated (Apfelbaum and Sams 1987).

Status: Established. Phalaris arundinacea spreads by seed, stem fragments, and rhizomes making this species extremely difficult to contain. In established areas, abundance of Phalaris arundinacea increases as abundance and biodiversity of native species decreases.

References: (click for full references)

Anderson, H. 2012. Invasive reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea subsp. Arundinacea) Best management practices in Ontario. Ontario Invasive Plant Council, Peterborough, Ontario.

Annen, C.A., R.W. Tyser, and E.M. Kirsch. 2005. Effects of a selective herbicide, sethoxydim, on reed canary grass. Ecological Restoration 23(2): 99-102.

Apfelbaum, S.I., and C.E. Sams. 1987. Ecology and control of reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinaces L.) Applied Ecological Services, Brodhead, Wisconsin.

Bahm, M.A., T.G. Barnes, and K.C. Jensen. 2014. Evaluation of herbicides for control of reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea). Natural Areas Journal 34: 459-464.

Bolstad, R. 1971. Catline rehabilitation and restoration. Pages 107-116. In United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Range and Experiment Station. Fire in the northern environment—a symposium: Proceedings 1971, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Cody, W.J., K.L. MacInnes, J. Cayoutte, and S. Darbyshire. 2000. Alien and invasive native vascular plants along the Norman Wells Pipeline Project, District of Mackenzie, Northwest Territories. The Canadian Field Naturalist 114: 126-137.

Comes, R.D., L.Y. Marquis, and A.D. Kelley. 1981. Response of seedlings of three perennial grasses to dalapon, amitorle, and glyphosate. Weed Science 29(5): 629-621.

Czarapata, E.J. 2005. Invasive plants of the Upper Midwest: An illustrated guide to their identification and control. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, Wisconsin.

Dore, W.G., and J. McNeill. 1980. Grasses of Ontario. Agriculture Canada, Research Branch, Monograph No. 26.

Galatowitsch, S.M., N.O. Anderson, and P.D. Ascher. 1999. Invasiveness in wetland plants in temperate North America. Wetlands 19(4): 733-755.

Herr-Turoff, A., and J.B. Zedler. 2005. Does wet prairie vegetation retain more nitrogen with or without Phalaris arundinacea invasion? Plant and Soil 277: 19-34.

Hitchcock, A.S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Administration. Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington D.C.

Hitchcock, C.L., A. Cronquist, and M. Ownbey. 1969. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 1: vascular cryptogams, gymnosperms, and monocotyledons. University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Howe, H.F. 1999. Response of Zizia aurea to seasonal mowing and fire in a restored prairie. The American Midland Naturalist 141(2): 373- 380.

Huffman, M.R., A.E. Annala, P.T. Lattimore, and L.A. Kapustka. 1986. Prairie restorations in southwestern Ohio: vegetation and soil characteristics after ten years. Pages 185-189. in Clambey, G.K., and R.H. Pemble (eds.). The prairie: past, present, and future: Proceedings of the 9th North American prairie conference 1984, Moorhead, Minnesota. Tri-College University Center for Environmental Studies.

Hutchison, M. 1992. Vegetation management guideline: reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.). Natural Areas Journal 12(3): 159.

Jakubowski, A.R., M.D. Casler, and R.D. Jackson. 2013. Genetic evidence suggests a widespread distribution of native North American populations of reed canarygrass. Biological Invasions 15: 261-268.

Kercher, S.M., A. Herr-Turnoff, and J.B. Zedler. 2007. Understanding invasion as a process: the case of Phalaris arundinacea in wet prairies. Biological Invasions 9: 657-665.

Kilbride, K.M., and F.L. Paveglio. 1999. Integrated pest management to control reed canarygrass in seasonal wetlands of southwestern Washington. Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006) 27(2): 292-297.

Kim, K.D., K. Ewing, and D.E. Giblin. 2006. Controlling Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass) with live willow stakes: A density-dependent response. Ecological Engineering 27: 219-227.

Kurtz, C.M., and M.H. Hansen. 2014. An assessment of reed canarygrass in northern U.S. forests. Research Note NRS-200. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

Larson, G.E. 1993. Aquatic and wetland vascular plants of the northern Great Plains. General Technical Report RM 238. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Lavergne, S., and J. Molofsky. 2004. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) as a biological model in the study of plant invasions. Critical Review in the Plant Sciences 23(5): 415-429.

Lavergne, S., and J. Molofsky. 2006. Control strategies for the invasive reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) in North American wetlands: the need for an integrated management plan. Natural Areas Journal 26(2): 208-214.

Leck, M.A. 1996. Germination of macrophytes from a Delaware River tidal freshwater wetland. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 123: 48-67.

Marten, G.C. 1985. Reed canarygrass. Pages 207-216. In Heath, M.E., R.F. Barnes, and D.S. Metclafe (eds.). Forages: The science of grassland agriculture (4th edition). Iowa State University Press. Ames, Iowa.

Maurer, D.A., and J.B. Zedler. 2002. Differential invasion of a wetland grass explained by tests of nutrients and light availability on establishment and clonal growth. Oceologia 1331(2): 279-288.

Maurer, D.A., R. Lindig-Cisneros, K.J. Werner, S. Kercher, R. Miller, and J.B. Zedler. 2003. The replacement of wetland vegetation by reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea). Ecological Restoration 21(2): 116-119.

Merigliano, M.F., and P. Lesica. 1998. The native status of reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) in the Inland Northwest, USA. Natural Areas Journal 19(3): 223-230.

Miller, T.W., L.P. Martin, and C.B. MacConnell. 2008. Managing reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) to aide in revegetation of riparian buffers. Weed Technology 22: 507-513.

Morrison, J.A. 2002. Wetland vegetation before and after experimental purple loosestrife removal. Wetlands 22: 159-169.

Newbold, C. 1975. Herbicides in aquatic systems. Biological Conservation 7: 97-118.

Peter, L. 1997. Spread of Phalaris arundinacea adversely impacts the endangered plant Howellia aquatilis. Great Basin Naturalist 57(4): 366-368.

Preuninger, J.S., and C.E. Umbanhowar Jr. 1994. Effects of burning, cutting, and spraying on reed canary grass studied (Minnesota). Restoration and Management Notes 12(2): 207.

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Slinkard, A.E., E.O. Nurmi, and J.L. Schwendiman. 1970. Seeding burned-over lands in northern Idaho. Current Information Series No. 139. University of Idaho, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station. Moscow, Idaho.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA NRCS). 2010. PLANTS Database. Available http://plants.usda.gov/. Accessed 22 June 2015.

Waggy, M.A. 2010. Phalaris arundinacea. In United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Fire Effects Information System. Available http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/phaaru/all.html. Accessed 22 June 2015.

Weinmann, F., M. Boule’, K. Brunner, J. Malek, and V. Yoshino. 1984. Wetland plants of the Pacific Northwest. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle.

White, D.J., E. Haber, and C. Keddy. 1993. Invasive plants of natural habitats in Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Ontario.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR). 2009. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Available http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/reed_canary.htm. Accessed 22 July 2011.

Zedler, J.B., and S. Kercher. 2004. Causes and consequences of invasive plants in wetlands: opportunities, opportunists, and outcomes. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 23(5): 431-452.

Author: Sturtevant, R., K. Dettloff, and W. Conard

Revision Date: 1/12/2021

Citation Information:
Sturtevant, R., K. Dettloff, and W. Conard, 2021, Phalaris arundinacea L.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2938, Revision Date: 1/12/2021, Access Date: 3/7/2021

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

Disclaimer:

The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2021]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/7/2021].

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