Phalaroides arundinacea (L.) Rauschert. - Reed canary grass.

Taxonomic position.

Family Poaceae Barnhart., genus Phalaroides Wolf.


Phalaris arundinacea L., Typhoides arundinacea (L.) Moench, Baldingera arundinacea (L.) Dum., Digraphis arundinacea (L.) Trin.

Biology and morphology.

Perennial plant, very robust, hairless and rhizomatous. It tends to grow in clumps or tussocks, but spreads by short, scaly rhizomes, forming a very dense sod. Stems erect, up to 180-250 cm tall. Leaf blade rolled when young, wide (8-16 mm), long (up to 25-28 cm), finely striated, almost smooth, pale green. Ligule is long (almost 5 mm), oval-obtuse. No auricles. Plant has a panicle-like inflorescence, elongated (10-20 cm), spreading during flowering then contracted, whitish green to purple. Spikelets have one flower. The brown to grey-black seeds are obovate, smooth and waxy. The seeds readily shatter at maturity, shattering from the top of the panicle downward. Blossoms in June; seed maturity occurs during July-August. The weight of 1,000 seeds is 0.80-1.0 g (small seeds). Plant is cross-pollinated by wind. 2n = 14, 28, 35, 42, 56.


The species is distributed throughout the Arctic (Murmansk region), the European part of the former USSR, the Caucasus, Siberia, Central Asia, and the Far East.


It is a mesophyte. Restricted to wet and boggy soils. A large range of nutrient availability is acceptable to this plant, but it favors rich soils. It also tolerates a large range of pH levels, thriving in both very acidic and basic soils. It grows mostly in peat soils, frequently also in clay soils. It is less abundant in soils of rough texture. Not resistant to drought. This grass is able to withstand flooding for up to two months and is tolerant of waterlogged soils. Resistant to late spring frosts (-4 to -6°C) and to early autumn frosts (-5 to -6°C).

Utilization and economic value.

Reed canary grass is exceptionally high-yielding when used to produce hay. When harvested at the early heading stage, its nutritive value is comparable to that of other forage grasses. The tall, coarse nature of this grass makes it acceptable for harvest as silage. Reed canary grass is very useful for pasture use. It starts to grow early in the spring, showing good distribution of growth throughout the season. The dense sod of reed canary grass makes it useful along rapidly eroding waterways, shorelines and ditch banks.

Reference citations:

Fedorov A.A., ed. 1974. Flora of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 1. Leningrad: Nauka. 404 pp. (In Russian)
Grossgheim A.A. 1939. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 2. Baku: AzFAN. 587 pp. (In Russian)
Gubanov I.A., Kiseleva K.V., Novikov V.S., Tychomirov V.N. 2002. Illustrated determinant of plants of Middle Russia. Vol. 1. Moscow: KMK. 526 pp. (In Russian)
Hulten E., Fries M. 1986. Atlas of Northern European Vascular Plants North of the Tropic of Cancer. Vol. 1-3. Konigstein. 1172 pp.
Kharkevich S.S., ed. 1985. Vascular Plants of Soviet Far East. Vol. 1. St. Petersburg: Nauka. 390 p. (In Russian)
Kovalevskaja S.S., ed. 1968. Conspect of Middle Asia Flora. Vol. 1. Taschkent: AN Uzbekistan SSR. 226 pp. (In Russian)
Malyshev L.I., Peshkova G.A., eds. 1990. Flora of Siberia. Vol. 2. Novosibirsk: Nauka. 361 pp. (In Russian)
Rodjevitz P.U., Schischkin V.K., eds. 1937. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR. 778 pp. (In Russian)
Shelyak-Sosonko Y.P., ed. 1977. Grasses of Ukraine. Kiev: Naukova Dumka. 518 pp.
Shishkin B.K., ed. 1950. Flora of Kirghizia. Vol. 2. Frunze: AN Kirghizia SSR. 315 pp. (In Russian)
Tolmachev A.I., ed. 1974. Flora of the Northeastern European part of the USSR. Vol. 1. Leningrad: Nauka. 75 pp. (In Russian)
Tzvelev N.I., ed. 1974. Flora of the Northeastern European part of the USSR. Vol. 1. Leningrad: Nauka. 275 pp. (In Russian)
Tzvelev N.N. 1976. Poaceae USSR. Leningrad: Nauka. 788 pp. (In Russian)

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