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Report an Invasive Species

Reed Canarygrass

Reed Canarygrass

Reed Canarygrass

(Phalaris arundinacea)

Priority: -  Control

Tags: Terrestrial

Identification and Reproduction


  • Reed canarygrass is a perennial grass that forms a rhizomatous sod layer. 
  • Stems are hollow and can grow upto 2 m tall. 
  • When in full bloom, inflorescences are purple in colour. Overtime they will appear straw-like in colour. They grow in dense, branched clusters. 

  • Leaf blades are often green but in certain conditions may be variegated. Leaf baldes also spread from stems are at right angle. 


  • This aggressive grass is fast spreading through long lasting seeds and thick rhizomes. 

Habitat & Ecology

  • This grass often forms along edges of lakes and streams in open areas. 
  • It is capable of withstanding flood and drought  conditions



  • It drastically changes the ecological system. Can alter stream flow and increase bank sedimentation. 
  • Reed canarygrass prevents the establishment of deep rooting species. 
  • Monocultures overtake entire wetland communities. 
  • Also seen to obstruct salmon migration paths. 


Mechanical/Manual Control: 

  • Pulling is effective for small populations, but will need to be repeated over several years. 
  • Mowing prior to seed set to prevent seed production and dispersal. 
  • Digging the plants may also eradicate reed canary grass. Ensure that root mass and fragments are removed to prevent regrowth. 
  • Be sure to clean all equipment and clothing of potential fragments and seeds. 
  • In cases with a large population of reed canary grass consider solarization after mechanical removal; using cardboard, tarp, or mulch to cover the root system and block sunlight. It is suggested to allow surface cover for at least one growing season. 
  • Do not compost; plant fragments should be removed, bagged and transported to disposal site. 


Download the Metro Vancouver's Best Management Practices for Reed Canarygrass here

Header photo (Robert Flogaus-Faust).