4. Phalaris caroliniana Walter (canary grass, May grass)
a–d; Map 548
Plants annual, forming tufts. Flowering stems 20–100 cm
long. Leaf sheaths with the ligule 2–5 mm long. Leaf blades 2–20 cm long, 3–10
mm wide. Inflorescences 1–7 cm long, 8–20 mm wide, appearing as dense,
ellipsoid to nearly cylindrical, uninterrupted spikes, the branches very short
and inconspicuous. Glumes 4–6 mm long, glabrous or slightly roughened, the
midnerve (keel) narrowly winged toward the tip, the wing up to 0.5 mm wide at
its broadest point. Sterile lemmas 1.5–2.5 mm long, linear, membranous to
papery, not swollen or fleshy, hairy. Fertile lemma 3.0–4.6 mm long, ovate,
hairy. Anthers 0.5–1.0 mm long. Fruits 2.0–2.4 mm long, elliptic to oblong‑ovate
in outline, reddish brown. 2n=14. June–October.
Uncommon, mostly in western Missouri (southern U.S. north to Virginia, Kansas, and Oregon; Mexico). Swamps, bottomland forests, and moist
depressions of upland prairies and glades (rarely on drier ground); also
pastures, fallow fields, ditches, roadsides, and moist, disturbed areas.
Fruits of this species apparently were used as a food by
Native Americans during presettlement times.