FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME
Phalaris arundinacea L.
FAMILY NAME COMMON
FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME
Synonyms: Phalaris arundinacea var. picta L.
Phalaris arundinacea f. varigata (Parnell) Druce. (ribbon grass)
Phalaris arundinacea is a perennial grass that grows 0.5-2 m (1.6-6.5 ft.) tall. The stems can get up to 1.25 cm (0.5 in.) in diameter. The main blades gradually taper and are usually 10-20 cm (4-8 in.) in length and 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in.) in width. The blades are solid green, or in the case of some garden varieties (var. picta and f. varigata) can be green and white striped. The ligule is membranous. The panicle is between 7-25 cm (2.75-10 in.) in length. Immature panicles are compact and resemble spikes but as they mature they become more open. The plant flowers from late May to August. The inflorescence color changes from green to purplish to tan as the seeds mature. The glumes are 4-6.5 mm (0.15-0.25 in.) long, glabrous to scaberulous, and not winged. There are both sterile and fertile lemmas. The sterile lemmas measure about 1 mm (0.04 in.) in length while the fertile lemmas measure 3-4.5 mm (0.1-0.2 in.) in length. The sterile lemmas have minute hairy scales. This plant is morphologically variable and at least 10 intraspecific categories have been described. Page References Bailey 156, Crow & Hellquist 282, Fernald 185, Gleason & Cronquist 765, Holmgren 714, Magee & Ahles 190. See reference section below for full citations.
Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) Beauv (bluejoint grass)
Dactylis glomerata L. (orchard grass)
Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud (common reed) Calamagrostis canadensis generally has a more open inflorescence and lacks the transparent ligule of Phalaris arundinacea. Dactylis glomerata usually grows in drier sites, has narrower leaf blades, shorter and less pointed inflorescences and the keels of the glumes and lemmas are usually ciliate. Phragmites australis is much larger than Phalaris arundinacea, reaching 2-4m (6-14ft.) in height, and has hairy rather than membranous ligules.
The seeds of this plant are most likely passively dispersed and form a dense seed bank.
Phalaris arundinacea is a circumboreal species that is native to North America as well as Europe. It is found throughout Canada. In the United States, it is present in Alaska, as well as the majority of the continental United States except for a few south/southeastern states. It has been reported from all the states of New England.
HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND
Since Phalaris arundinacea is native to the United States, it may have been present in the northern parts of New England all along. However, European cultivars were introduced in the early 1800 as forage grasses, and are still used for hay. This grass was also used for revegetation of eroded streambanks. The variegated ribbon grass, which does occasionally naturalize, was introduced into New England through horticultural use, and is still being used for landscaping today. It is nearly impossible to tell the native and European plants apart except via molecular techniques.
HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND,Floodplain Forest,Herbaceous Wetland,Lake or Pond,Planted Forest,River or Stream,Roadside,Wet Meadow,Yard or Garden
Phalaris arundinacea grows best on streambanks, lakesides, marshes, ditches and moist ground.
Phalaris arundinacea threatens native plants through its ready spread via rhizomes. It forms dense monocultures that can cover acres. These stands cause the seed bank to become depleted of other species. The denseness of the stands does not allow for native species to readily coexist with it. It has little value for wildlife, and can be too dense to serve as cover for waterfowl and small mammals. It can get into irrigation banks and ditches and cause an increase in siltation. Phalaris arundinacea can be allergenic due to the abundant pollen and chaff it produces. [This plant is often ignored in wetland systems because it often grows with another invader, Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) that attracts more attention. Thus, the full extent of its threat may actually be underestimated.]
Illinois Natural History Survey
General description and management guidelines
Ecology and Control of Reed Canary Grass
A report from Applied Ecological Services, Inc.
Documentation required: Specific photograph or mounted snippet of the inflorescence.
Best time for documentation: Summer
Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Taxonomic information about the species
The PLANTS Database
General information and a map
The Nature Conservancy
Photographs and detailed description.
Ecology and Control of Reed Canary Grass
A report by Applied Ecological Services, Inc.
Canadian Wildlife Service
Washington State Department of Ecology
General information, pictures, economic importance and control
Illinois Nature Preserves Commission
General information including control
Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves
General information, control and a photograph
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
General information and control
West Virginia University Forage Library Card Catalogue
Details of identification characteristics
Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide
Photographs and general information
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