Reed canarygrass

Reed canary grass

Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is a tall, perennial grass that commonly forms extensive single-species stands along the margins of lakes and streams and in wet open areas, with a wide distribution in Europe, Asia, northern Africa and North America.

The stems can reach 2.5 m in height. The leaf blades are blue-green when fresh and straw-colored when dry. The flowers are borne on the stem high above the leaves and are pinkish at full bloom.

A number of cultivars of P. arundinacea have been selected for use as ornamental plants, including variegated (striped) cultivars – sometimes called ribbon grass – such as Dwarfs Garters and Strawberries and Cream. The latter gets its name from the large white stripes and pinkish color that appears on the leaves at varying times. When grown, although drought tolerant, it likes abundant water and can even be grown as an aquatic plant.

In many places, reed canary grass is an invasive species in wetlands, particularly in disturbed areas. When reed canarygrass invades a wetland, it suppresses native vegetation and reduces diversity. The grass propagates by seed and rhizome, and once established, is difficult to eradicate.

Reed canary grass is also planted as a hay crop or for forage. Furthermore it provides fibers which find use in pulp and papermaking processes.

Some Phalaris species contain gramine, which can cause brain damage, other organ damage, central nervous system damage and death in sheep.

Leaves of P. arundinacea contain DMT, 5-MeO-DMT and related compounds.

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