Pictured above: Calamagrostis canadensis

This genus is characterized by one-flowered spikelets, in which a bristle-like rachilla is present adjacent to the lemma. Lemmas have a cluster of long slender hairs at the callus (often mingling with and obscuring the similar-looking rachilla) and are awned from the back.

There are 5 species in MN; 5 native.  

Common species:
Calamagrostis canadensis (cah la ma gros' tis can na den' sis) 


  • Synonyms: None
  • Common names: bluejoint, Canada bluestem
  • Origin and habitat: Native; moist to wet habitats
  • Identifying characters: A ring of felt-like hairs is present on the stem just below the nodes and ligules are quite long (1-5 mm). Spikelets are only 2-6 mm long and the lemmas are slightly shorter than the glumes. The generic feature of hairs at the base of the lemma is a distinctive one.
  • Comments: This is a fairly common grass in marshes, along lakes, and in wet ditches. It does exhibit a fair amount of variation in panicle size and color, however. Occasionally used in moist garden settings as a vertical accent.

Calamagrostis stricta (cah la ma gros' tis strict tah)

  • Synonyms: None
  • Common names: yellow-top, narrow reedgrass, pony grass
  • Origin and habitat: Native; found in wet habitats
  • Identifying characters: Very similar to bluejoint (C. canadensis), yellow-top differs primarily by having glabrous nodes, a dense inflorescence, and lemmas that are minutely scabrous over their surface.


Calamagrostis Canadensiscalamagrostis stricta  

Additional Species in Minnesota:
C. lacustris
C. montanensis
C. purpurascens