Scientific name:

Elymus canadensis L.


Native Grass


Bulkley - Nechako

Cariboo - Fraser Fort George


Northeast - Peace Liard

Thompson - Okanagan

Typical BEC range:

Boreal White and Black Spruce

Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir

Interior Cedar-Hemlock

Interior Douglas-fir

Montane Spruce

Sub-Boreal Pine-Spruce

Sub-Boreal Spruce

Annual precip. min (mm):


Annual precip. max (mm):


Seed size:


Seeds per kg:


Typical seeding objectives:

Erosion control

Native plant community

PR Suitability note:

Canada wildrye is found in native plant communities in the Peace Region.

Key considerations:

Canada wildrye may be considered for site rehabilitation when there is native plant community objective, however it prefers coarse textured soils. Varieties have been developed. Where there is a native plant community objective, and a desire to maintain a high level of ecological integrity, seed from local ecotypes or wild populations may be preferred.

General Description:

Canada wildrye is a tall, tufted, cool season, perennial bunchgrass. It is also known as nodding wildrye in some areas. It grows from a deep, spreading root system, occasionally with short rhizomes. Erect and leafy hollow stems grow to 60 to 150 cm (24 to 59 in.) in height. Leaf blades are flat and wide, waxy green, and sometimes curled. Its seed heads self-pollinate, with some cross-pollination.


Native to British Columbia.


Canada wildrye is found throughout British Columbia, but is infrequent in the south-central and southeast parts of the province. It is found throughout North America, with the exception of the U.S. southeast, and the Great Plains.

Habitat and climate:

Canada wildrye is found on sandy or gravelly, dry to moist river bars and meadows in highland areas below the subalpine.


Canada wildrye is used for habitat restoration and erosion control, and also as grazing and hay for livestock.

Optimal time of grazing use:

Canada wildrye grows rapidly in spring, and if grazed should be used in spring or early summer.

Recovery after use (rating):


Recovery after use:

Canada wildrye grows slowly after grazing or haying and should be rested for an entire growing season following use. It should only be grazed after it has reached a height of 13 cm (5 in.).

Palatability/Nutritional Value:

Canada wildrye is considered to be good forage early in the season, but is less desirable as it matures. Forage quality is poor when mature; although the energy value is relatively good, the protein value is very poor. Canada wildrye has fair to good palatability for wildlife.

Longevity (rating):



Canada wildrye is relatively short lived, with an expected productive life span of 3 to 5 years.

Persistence (rating):



Canada wildrye establishes rapidly and has high seedling vigor but is replaced by other species within 2-3 years.

Invasiveness (rating):



Canada wildrye is not considered invasive.

Competitiveness (rating):



Canada wildrye is not considered to be very competitive.

Weed resistance (rating):


Weed resistance:

Canada wildrye does not compete well with weedy species.

Erosion control (rating):


Erosion control:

Canada wildrye establishes quickly and has good seedling vigour providing quick stabilization on disturbed sites. It is particularly well suited for use in riparian areas. It is known for its rapid cover and site stabilization in mixtures for roadside, parks and recreational areas, prairie restoration, and critical areas.

Drought tolerance (rating):


Drought tolerance:

Canada wildrye has moderate drought tolerance, but is better adapted to moist areas.

Winter hardiness (rating):


Winter hardiness:

Canada wildrye has good winter hardiness.

Soil texture preference (rating):


Soil texture preference:

Canada wildrye prefers coarse-textured soils.

Flooding tolerance (rating):


Flooding tolerance:

Canada wildrye is not adapted to flooded conditions.

Salinity tolerance (rating):


Salinity tolerance:

In some references, Canada wildrye has poor salinity tolerance; in others it is rated with good salinity tolerance.

Acidity tolerance (rating):


Acidity tolerance:

Canada wildrye tolerates soil pH levels as low as 5.0.

Shade tolerance :

Canada wildrye has fairly high shade tolerance which makes it suitable for use in riparian areas where there may be a tree or shrub canopy.

Fire tolerance (rating):


Ease of establishment (rating):


Ease of establishment:

Canada wildrye is easily established.

Application requirements:

Canada wildrye is suitable for fall or dormant season seeding, and is suitable for broadcast seeding applications. “Manadan” (ND) is the predominant variety for northern regions and was released in 1946 by the USDA Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory at Mandan, North Dakota.

Management Considerations:

Persistence of Canada wildrye is increased if plants are allowed to set seed and establish seedlings.