Reed canary grass
Vascular – Exotic
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Tall grass, up to 2 m tall with leaf-blades up to 40 cm long and 2 cm wide arranged on often upright stems, producing a large flowerhead up to 30 cm long and 4 cm across, either an open branched head or closed to a spike.
Scattered throughout New Zealand.
Swamps. Including under shade of willows and open kahikatea forest, wet grassland, margins of water bodies, wet waste areas and roadsides.
Robust perennials, 60-200 cm, with long-creeping rhizomes. Leaf-sheath chartaceous, glabrous, striate, light brown. Ligule 2.5-7.5-(10) mm, entire, but soon lacerate. Leaf-blade 20-40 cm × 8-20 mm, ribs numerous, fine, adaxially smooth but scabrid near tip, abaxially with strong midrib near base, ribs densely, minutely scabrid; margins minutely scabrid, long-narrowed to scabrid, acute tip. Culm 50-180 cm. Panicle 9-30 × 1.5-4 cm, lanceolate or oblong, lobed below; rachis smooth below, scabrid above, branches scabrid, spreading at anthesis. Spikelets 4-5.5 mm, pale green or purplish. Glumes ± equal, 3-nerved, lanceolate, keeled but not winged, acute to acuminate, minutely scabrid, rarely lower glume with minute hairs near margin. Ø florets: lemmas equal, 1.3-1.6 mm, narrow, short-hairy. ☿ floret: lemma 3-4 mm, broadly keeled, lanceolate, acute, firm and shining below, short-hairy above; palea much narrower than lemma; anthers (2)-2.5-3.2 mm; caryopsis c. 2 × 1 mm.
Much more robust than other wetland grasses with the exception of the rare pest plants Manchurian wild rice and phragmites.
October to January
Seed dispersed by water, animals or contaminated machinery.
Europe, Asia, North America and South Africa
Reason for introduction
Pasture plant, also ornamental plant.
Can be controlled manually, mechanically or herbicidally depending on situation.
Factsheet prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA). Features description from Edgar and Connor (2000).
References and further reading
Edgar E. and H. Connor. 2000. Flora of New Zealand. Volume 5. Manaaki Whenua Press: Lincoln, New Zealand.