Skip to Content
Return to Home Page
Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Littleseed canarygrass  (Phalaris minor)

Click on images to enlarge 

Life stages of Littleseed canarygrass top picture bottom left picture bottom right picture

Littleseed canarygrass is an erect winter annual grass with dense spikelike flower heads. It occurs throughout California, except in the Great Basin, up to 1000 feet (about 300 m) and inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed sites. Littleseed canarygrass can be toxic to livestock when ingested in quantity.


Winter crop fields, alfalfa fields, grain fields (including rice), seasonally wet sites, ditch banks, roadsides and other disturbed, unmanaged areas.


Seedlings are bluish green in color. The ligule is large and white. It often wraps around the stem, and arises from inside the leaf blade, where the base of the blade hugs the stem. The leaf sheath has a reddish base.

Mature plant

Plants range from 4 to 39 inches (10–97.5 cm) tall, branch at the base, and have mostly erect stems that are round in cross-section. Leaves are up to about 6 inches (15 cm) long, flat, soft, broad, and hairless. New leaves are rolled in the bud.

Collar region

The collar region is often pale. The ligule is about 1/5 to 2/5 inch (5–10 mm) long, membranous, delicate, transparent, and either tapers to a point or is truncate, often closely covering the stem. There are no auricles.


Littleseed canarygrass blooms from March to September. Densely packed flowers are produced on a spikelike flower head, 4/5 to 4 inches (2–10 cm) long. Below the flowers are grayish-brown leaflike structures (bracts), with light stripes on each side.


Seeds are hairy, flattened, oblong, translucent, and grayish-green or straw colored.


Littleseed canarygrass reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

More information