Phalaris (grass)

Phalaris (grass)
Phalaris aquatica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Phalaris

15-22 species (see text)

Phalaris is a genus of grasses. Various species of Phalaris grow on every continent except Antarctica. They can be found in a broad range of habitats from below sea level to thousands of feet above sea level and from wet marshy areas to dry places. P. arundinacea and P. aquatica are sometimes invasive species in wetlands.



Some Phalaris species contain gramine, which, in sheep, can cause brain damage, other organ damage, central nervous system damage and death.[1]

Phalaris arundinacea and Phalaris aquatica, as well as Phalaris brachystachys, are known to contain the alkaloids N,N-DMT , 5-MeO-DMT, and 5-OH-DMT.

Some research has been done into the variability of alkaloids in the Phalaris grasses. Strains with high levels of alkaloids are best avoided in locations with grazing cattle and sheep, due to potential toxicity. Such high-alkaloid strains include Phalaris Aquatica AQ-1 and the species Phalaris brachystachys. Seasonal and weather patterns also appear to affect alkaloid concentration, as most toxicity occurs in autumn and in times of drought. Regrowth after grazing or mowing also shows a considerable increase in alkaloids.

Phalaris Species Known to Contain Alkaloids
Total Alkaloids (Dried)
Phalaris aquatica
Phalaris arundinacea
Phalaris brachystachys
Aerial parts up to 3%

None of the above alkaloids are said to have been found in P. californica, P. canariensis, P. minor and hybrids of P. arundinacea together with P. aquatica.[2]


Some species are used in dried flower arrangements. Phalaris canariensis is commonly used for birdseed.


Species include:

  • Phalaris amethystina Trin.
  • Phalaris angusta - timothy canarygrass
  • Phalaris aquatica - bulbous canarygrass, Harding grass, Hardinggrass, =Phalaris tuberosa
  • Phalaris arundinacea - reed canary grass, reed canarygrass
  • Phalaris brachystachys - shortspike canarygrass
  • Phalaris californica - California canarygrass
  • Phalaris canariensis - annual canarygrass, common canary grass, common canarygrass
  • Phalaris caroliniana - Carolina canarygrass, "maygrass", see Eastern Agricultural Complex
  • Phalaris coerulescens - sunolgrass
  • Phalaris commutata
  • Phalaris elongata Braun-Blanq.
  • Phalaris lemmonii - Lemmon's canarygrass
  • Phalaris minor - canarygrass, littleseed canarygrass
  • Phalaris paradoxa - hood canarygrass
  • Phalaris platensis Henrard ex Wacht.
  • Phalaris truncata Guss. ex Bertol.


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