Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea)



Robust perennial grass growing up to 2 m tall, forming large colonies.   Large white flowers are narrow and closed early in the season before opening up into busy panicles.


This aggressive hybrid species grows in ditches, wetlands, old fields, and floodplains.


Reed canarygrass displaces native wetland vegetation, providing little food for wildlife.  It can alter wetland hydrology and clog creek and wetlands.


Small populations can be dug out by the roots and burned.  Larger populations can be repeatedly mowed and smothered with an impermeable membrane for 3-6 months.  Several rounds of smothering and exposure may be necessary.  On open sites where tree regeneration is desirable, the establishment of tree cover will eventually shade out reed canarygrass.  Removed plant material can be burned, or dried out on an impermeable membrane before being discarded in the forest in a shady area.

Our Experience

This is a very challenging species to remove, and we are still experimenting with control techniques.  In the long term, re-establishing a native tree canopy will help ensure populations don’t return.  In permanently open sites, a combination of mowing and smothering may be effective over time.  Reed canarygrass should be removed wherever it occurs in small populations, and managed in circumstances where large populations have established.

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