Plant Data Sheet


Bluejoint reedgrass, Calamagrostis canadensis

photo credit: USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center


Widespread throughout North America, from Alaska to New Foundland, South to New Mexico and North Carolina.

(Cooke, 1997)

Climate, elevation:

Sea level in northern range to 3,600 meters in New Mexico (Tesky, 1992)

Wetlands in the Tsuga mertensiana and Abies amabilis zones (Franklin and Dyrness, 1988)


Local occurrence:

Common, but locally abundant (Pojar and Mackinnon, 1994)


Habitat preferences:

Moist organic soils, tolerates pH as low as 3.5, does not tolerate drought. (Tesky, 1992)

Found in upland or wetland (facw+), in ditches or streams, shorelines, bogs and meadows, moist woodlands. (Cooke, 1997, Pojar and Mackinnon, 1994)

Not found in coastal dunes (See: Calamagrostis nutkaensis) (Cooke, 1997)


Plant strategy type/successional stage:

Competitive-Ruderal, dominant species in seral or climax riparian understory. Can invade disturbed areas by seed, recolonize disturbed areas with residual rhizomes, and can limit woody vegetation invasion if established densely. (Tesky, 1992)

Associated species:

Salix sp., Carex rostrata, Epilobium angustifolium (Tesky, 1992)

Carex aquatilis, Scirpus microcarpus, Glyceria elata,

Eriophorum polystachion, Juncus, ensifolius (Franklin and Dyrness, 1988)


May be collected as:


Seeds: late summer or fall (Butler and Frieswyk, 2001)


Collection restrictions or guidelines:

Flowers late June to mid July (Tesky, 1992)

Strip seed from stalk (Butler and Frieswyk, 2001)

Seed germination:

90% at 20C for collected seed in Northwest territories (Tesky, 1992)

80% when direct seeded, field grown in western Colorado (Noller, 2001)

"low" when grown in greenhouse in Estes Park Colorado, germinated in 11 to 14 days (Butler and Frieswyk, 2001)


Seed life:

Up to 5 years in soil (Tesky, 1992)

More than 2 years kept cool and dry (Noller, 2001)

Recommended seed storage conditions:

Cool and dry (Noller, 2001)

Propagation recommendations:


From Noller (2001):

Cleaned with air screen and debearder,

no pre-treatments,

sowed in field in spring,

2-3 cm deep, 50-70 seeds/30 cm on 1.5 meter rows


From Butler and Frieswyk, (2001):

Seeds striped from stalk by hand,

sown in October and November,

using 30 cm X 30 cm flat and Fafard superfine germinating mix,

with 19C day 13C night air temperature,

21C bottom heat, under a tent with 10 to 15 minute misters.

One week after germination plants were moved out of tent, misting continued.


Soil or medium requirements:

See details above


Installation form:

seed, turf, rhizomes or containers


Recommended planting density:

50-70 seeds/30 cm on 1.5 meter rows (Noller, 2001)


Care requirements after installed:


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan:

Grows up to 120 cm, even 200 cm in 6 weeks. Long lived, up to 100 years (Tesky, 1992)


Sources cited:

Franklin, Jerry and C.T. Dyrness. 1988 Natural Vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Oregon State University Press, Corvalis, OR 452 p.

Butler, Jennifer; Frieswyk, Christin. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of Calamagrostis canadensis seeds; Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado. In: Native Plant Network. URL: (accessed 1 May 2003). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.

Cooke, Sarah Spear. 1997 A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington & Northwestern Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, WA 415 p.

Noller, Gary L. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) Beauv. plants; Meeker - Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Materials Center, Meeker, Colorado. In: Native Plant Network. URL: (accessed 1 May 2003). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.

Pojar, Jim and Andrew MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast Washington, Oregon British Columbia & Alaska. BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 527 p.

Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Calamagrostis canadensis. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (2003, April). Fire Effects Information System, Online. Available: Accessed 5/1/03.


Data compiled by:

Matthew Ramsay, May 1, 2003