Phalaris arundinacea L.
Syn.: Phalaris japonica Steud.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Reed canarygrass produces nutritious, palatable, succulent herbage for pasture,
silage, and hay. It is the most popular species for irrigation with pollution
control sewage effluent from municipal and industrial sources as practice.
Also used on stream beds gully bottoms, on sloughs, pond banks, swamplands of
muck or peat nature, but it makes an excellent growth on upland sites as well.
One of the earliest grasses to begin growth in spring. Considered a good
forage plant in Sweden as early as 1749, and much seed used elsewhere has been
introduced from there (Reed, 1976). Seed is used for birdseed (C.S.I.R.,
According to Hager's Handbook (List and Horhammer, 19691979), the leaves were
once used in medicine, a practice seemingly abandoned.
Per 100 g, the hay is reported to contain on a zero-moisture basis (ZMB), 0 g
H2O, 8.8 g protein, 2.2 g fat, 81.8 g total carbohydrate, 34.3 g fiber, 7.2 g
ash, 340 mg Ca, and 250 mg P. The Wealth of India (C.S.I.R., 19481976)
reports (ZMB) 14.5% protein, 2.2% EE, 41.1% carbohydrates, 30.2% CF, 10.2%
mineral matter, 0.79% CaO, and 0.98% P2O5. Roots contain cyanidin- and
paeonidin-3-arabinoside (List and Horhammer, 19691979).
Contains hordenine and 5-methoxy-N-methyl tryptamine. Certain unpalatable
strains contain gramine (C11H14N2). Selenium may be present at 0.005 ppm
(Susaki, Ishida, and Kawashima, 1980). Other amines are mentioned in Hager's
Handbook (List and Horhammer, 19691979).
Perennial, tall, robust, rather coarse, spreading extensively by creeping
rhizomes, but when growing thin or volunteer may form clumps 0.61 m across;
culms 0.62.2 m tall, rather stout with 610 nodes; leaf-blades flat,
glaucous-green, often scabrous on both surfaces, 2030 cm long, 815 mm broad,
glabrous; ligules prominent, papery, truncate, 23 mm long; panicles 520 cm
long, 13 mm wide, erect, semi-dense, cylindrical, sometimes spikelike,
whitish, pale green or purplish, branches erect or ascending, single or in
pairs, the branchlets short, densely spiculose; spikelets 45 mm long, ovate,
flattened, appressed to branchlets, very acute; glumes equal, short-acuminate,
folded, scabrous, keel with very narrow wing above; florets lanceolate-ovate,
33.5 mm long, the attached sterile lemmas minute, villous; anthers 1.52 mm
long; caryopsis gray, brown to gray-black, shining or waxy, flax-like, about 3
mm long; maturing from top of panicle downward, quickly scattering at maturity.
Fl. MayJune. Seeds 1,175,256/kg. (Reed, 1976).
Reported from the Eurosiberian Center of Diversity, reed canarygrass, or cvs
thereof, is reported to tolerate disease, drought, fungi, high pH, low pH,
muck, mycobacteria, nematodes, peat, salt, sewage irrigation, slope, virus, waterlogging, and weeds (Duke, 1978). Relatively few cultivars have
been developed. Those developed in United States or Canada include the
following: 'Superior' and 'Ioreed' are superior seed producers, not shattering
readily, the former being used mainly in upland sites; 'Auburn' (Alabama) and
'Poise' (Iowa) are highly disease resistant and have high seed retention;
'Frontier' and 'Grove', developed in Ontario, are late maturing and leafy;
'Vantage' (Iowa) has good seed retention and is a little earlier than 'Rise' in
Iowa; 'Castor' (Alberta) has high seed retention, but otherwise similar to
'Frontier'. Phalaris arundinacea var. picta L. (Ribbon-grass)
has variegated leaves and is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental,
infrequently blooming (2n = 14, 28, 42) (Reed, 1976; Duke 1978)
Native to temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, and in North
Africa. Widely introduced in cooler regions of northern hemisphere. Adapted
to northern half of United States and southern Canada, with largest acreage in
Oregon, Washington, and northern California, east to Michigan and Iowa (Reed,
1976). Cited as a serious or principle weed in Afghanistan, Hungary,
Indonesia. Japan, Korea, Mauritius, New Zealand, and Poland (Holm et al.,
Ranging from Boreal Moist to Wet through Subtropical Dry to Wet Forest Life
Zones, reed canarygrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3 to 26
dm (mean of 61 cases = 8.0), annual temperature of 5 to 23°C(mean of 61 =
10.5) and pH of 4.5 to 8.2 (mean of 52 = 6.3) (Duke, 1978). A
cool-season grass, often found in low-lying, mashy meadows and pastures liable
to flooding. Still it is moderately drought-resistant. Also grows on fertile
upland soils in humid areas. Grows best on moist sandy soils, rich in organic
matter, but also on fertile loams and clays. Very tolerant to flooding,
ranging in days to spring flooding: mature plants 49 days or more; seedlings,
3549; seed, 3556. Not adapted to saline soils. Leaves are killed by
temperature not low enough to kill leaves of timothy or Kentucky bluegrass.
Does not perform well in subtropical or tropical climates. Net photosynthesis
is maximum at air temperatures of about 20°C and is reduced to 80% of
maximum at 38°C (Reed, 1976). Will tolerate 36 millimhos salinity (58 on
Propagated by seed and spreads vegetatively by stout creeping rootstocks.
Requires well-prepared, clean seedbed, or may be sown in ashes after burning
scrub. Spring sowings are best; seeds germinate easily; seedlings must be well
established before frost-heaving or flooding. In Europe, occasionally sown in
areas liable to winter and spring flooding, but seed germination is slow and
uneven. Drilled or broadcast at rate of 47 kg/ha, covered only 0.61.3 cm.
With 80% germination, seeding rate of 610 kg/ha is usually adequate on a firm
seedbed to establish a crop. Autumn sowings are satisfactory in areas with
mild winters, particularly in burned-over land or poorly drained areas and can
be successful if seeds do not germinate until spring. Pure stands respond to
large dressings of nitrogen, lime, and other fertilizers, but soils should be
tested first. Legumes are not easily maintained in mixtures; 'Ladino' clover
is satisfactory in United States, provided the grass is not allowed to grow
above 3040 cm tall. Seeds and seedlings not so tolerant of drought as Russian
wild rye or orchardgrass (Reed, 1976).
Seeds shatter easily, and heads are often harvested by hand and cured on racks
or a barn floor; best cut with binder or header or combined when 4050% seed
brown. Plants should be mowed or grazed sufficiently to prevent excessive
growth that is tough and unpalatable. The growing season is very long as
growth starts after last spring frost. Heavy yields of rather coarse hay are
difficult to cure. Further, the grass does not persist under continuous close
grazing. If required for hay, it is best to graze once, early in season, so as
to increase proportion of leafy growth, discourage production of coarse stems
and postpone hay-making until higher temperatures make curing easier. Should
be mowed for hay when just coming into flower (Reed, 1976).
Reed canarygrass is one of the highest yielding perennial grasses used for
fodder in its area of adaptation. Maximum yields obtained by rotational
grazing, with herbage not exceeding 3045 cm tall, may yield 818 MT DM/ha/yr;
in US 920 MT/ha, out-yielding bromegrass in some areas (Reed, 1976). Yields
of seed when broadcast, 50150 kg/ha; drilled in rows, 80200 kg/ha. In
Hungary, fresh yields of 150160 MT/ha WM were obtained from 3 cuts on deep,
periodically flooded, wet soils (Kiss, 1977). Reed canarygrass has become an
increasingly popular grass in the Pacific Northwest and in Canada. Its primary
value is as a pasture grass and as an erosion control grass in areas of
municipal and industrial sewage effluent areas (Reed, 1976).
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
8 to 20 MT/ha. Other DM yields reported include18 MT/ha/yr from Phalaris
aquatica (Duke, 1981b).
Many fungi have been reported on reed canarygrass, including: Asteromella
phalaridis, Beloniella graminis, Cladosporium graminum, C. velutinum, Claviceps
microcephala, Coniothyrium phalaridis, Dilophospora alopecuri, Entuloma
brefeldii, E. smarodsii, Fusarium acuminatum, Gloeosporium bolleyi,
Helminthosporiumn oryzae, H. teres, Hendersonia culmicola, Heterosporium
phragmitis, Leptosphaeria culmicola, L. culmifraga, L. microscopica, L.
fuckelii, L. larseniana, L. sparas, Macrophoma physalospora, Macroseptoria
moravica, Metasphaeria oxyspora, M. phalaridis, M. typhoidis, Mollisia
arundinacea, M. phalaridis, Mycosphaerella chlorina, M. graminicola, Oidium
monilioides, Ophiobolus cariceti, O. paludosus, Ovularia hordei, Pellicularia
filamentosa, Phaeospharria vagans, Phyllosticta crastiphila, Physoderma
gerhardti, Puccinia allii-phalaridis, P. brevicornis, P. chlorantha, P.
glumarum, P. orchidearum-phalaridis, P. schmidtiana, P. sessilis, P.
smilacearum-digraphidis, P. striiformis, P. winteriana, Pythium arrhenomanes
var. canadensis, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerophomina phalaridis,
Sclerophthora macrospora, S. kriegeriana, Sclerotinia menieri, Septoria
arundinacea, Siroscyphellina arundinacea, Stagonospora vexata, Tilletia
striaeformis, T. menieri, Uromyces phalaridis, Ustilago macrospora, U.
vestergreni, U. echinata, U. hypodytes, and U. striaeformis. Nematodes
isolated from this grass include: Anguina agrostis, Heterodera avenae,
Pratylenchus neglectus, P. penetrans, and Tylenchus phalaridis
(Reed, 1976). The flowers are cross pollinated.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Holm, L.G., Pancho, J.V., Herberger, J.P., and Plucknett, D.L. 1979. A
geographical atlas of world weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
- Kiss, I.E. 1977. Experiments with strains of Typhoides arundinacea in
Hungary. Proc. 13th Internat. Grassland Congress, Sec. Paper, Sect.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen
praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Reed, C.F. 1976. Information summaries on 1000 economic plants. Typescripts
submitted to the USDA.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw