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Phalaris arundinacea - L.

Common Name Canary Grass, Reed canarygrass, Gardener's Garter Grass, Ribbon Grass
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Wet places and shallow water[187].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain but excluding the Mediterranean, W. N. and E. Asia, N. America.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Phalaris arundinacea Canary Grass, Reed canarygrass, Gardener

Phalaris arundinacea
Phalaris arundinacea Canary Grass, Reed canarygrass, Gardener


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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect, Variable spread.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Phalaris arundinacea is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Ground Cover; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Fodder  Pollution  Weaving

Plants have a running root system and form an impenetrable ground cover. They should be mown 2 - 3 times in their first 2 - 3 years in order to encourage thick growth[200]. Plants are best spaced about 60cm apart each way[208]. The leaves have been woven into hats and mats[257]. his is one of the main species used in the reed bed system for the water purification treatment of grey water and for irrigation with pollution control sewage effluent from municipal and industrial sources[269]. One of the highest yielding fodder grasses with annual yields ranging from 8 - 20 tonnes per hectare, it has potential as a source of biomass[269].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Carbon Farming  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Hay  New Crop  Staple Crop: Protein

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Erosion control, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Seashore, Specimen, Woodland garden. A very easy plant to grow, it succeeds in ordinary garden soil[187], though it grows best on moist sandy soils, rich in organic matter[269]. It also does well on fertile loams and clays[269]. Succeeds in most soils, whether dry or wet[200] and is moderately tolerant of drought[269]. It does not like saline soils[269]. The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 30 to 260cm, an annual temperature in the range of of 5 to 23°C and a pH of 4.5 to 8.2[269]. Plants can be very invasive, especially in moist conditions, there dense growth provides good cover for water fowl[200]. Plants are hardy to at least -20°c[187, 200]. This is one of the first grasses to come into growth in the spring[269]. There are many named forms, selected mainly for their ornamental value[200]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Invasive, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, Suitable for dried flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Hay  Cut to the ground and harvested annually. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • New Crop  Most new crops were important wild plants until recently, although some are the result of hybridization. They have been developed in the last few, decades. What they have in common is that they are currently cultivated by farmers. Examples include baobab, argan, and buffalo gourd.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring[200]. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Phalaris canariensisCanary Grass, Annual canarygrassAnnual1.0 5-9  LMHNMWe200
Phalaris minorSmall Canary Grass, Littleseed canarygrassAnnual1.2 5-9  LMHNMWe100

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

stephanie Clemens   Mon Jul 18 17:06:46 2005

This plant is an invasive weed in many places. Please do not plant it!

Harpo   Fri Feb 3 2006

The very strong hallucinogen N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (commonly called DMT) can be extracted from this plant.

DMT World Methods for extraction of DMT from Phalaris A. and other plant sources

Ray   Mon Oct 1 2007

Can I plant this in the ground in the fall in NC coastal area?

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