Canada Wild Rye, Elymus canadensis

Canada Wild Rye

Elymus canadensis

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist, Medium
Color: Straw
Fragrance: No
Height: 4 - 5 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis) or Nodding Wild Rye is a cool season, clump-forming ornamental bunch grass noted for its arching, wheat/rye-like spikes which bloom in summer and remain attractive well into winter. It typically occurs in open woods, prairies, fields, stream banks and waste areas. Clumps typically grow 3-5 feet tall and feature flat, pointed, bluish-green to green leaves (to ¾-inch wide) which clasp the stems at the bases. Greenish flowers appear in terminal, arching, bristly spikes (to 6 inches long) which, when mature, gracefully nod and sway in the wind on stiff stems rising well above the foliage..

The blooming period occurs during mid- to late summer. The culms and their spikes turn tan during the fall, at which time the awns curve outward. Disarticulation of the spikelets is above the glumes. The large grains are 5.0–7.0 mm. long, 1.5–2.0 mm. across, somewhat flattened, and narrowly oblongoid-ellipsoid in shape. The root system is fibrous.

Habitats include black soil prairies and sand prairies, typical savannas and sandy savannas, woodland edges, limestone glades, thinly-wooded rocky bluffs, dunes along Lake Michigan, riverbanks in sunny areas, gravelly areas along railroads, and fallow fields. The blue-glaucous form of Canada Wild Rye prefers habitats that are more dry and sunny than the typical form, although it can be found in many of the same habitats as the typical form.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils. Easily grown from seed and self-seeds in optimum growing conditions.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Good ground cover for dry, sunny slopes.
Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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