Pictured from left to right: Glyceria canadensis (2 photos) and Glyceria striata (3 photos)

This genus is distinctive in having glumes and lemmas with parallel veins. In our species both glumes have only one vein. Lemmas are blunt-tipped. These are marsh or lakeside rhizomatous plants with closed sheaths and broad leaves with a prominent midvein.

There are 4 species in MN; 4 are native.

Common species:
Glyceria canadensis (gly sear' ee ah can ah den' sis)

  • Synonyms: None
  • Common names: rattlesnake grass, sweet grass; Ojibway: anagone wuck
  • Origin and habitat: Native; mucky stream banks and lake shores, especially in acidic soils.
  • Identifying characters: Inflorescences are droopy open panicles, 1-3 dm long with broadly ovate spikelets (looking like miniature snake rattles). Leaves are often slightly keeled in the collar area with a ligule 2-2.5 mm long.
  • Comments: The inflorescence sometimes is displayed before the spikelets are fully mature with the result that such spikelets may appear to be much narrower than usual. There are some reports that the Ojibway used this plant in some fashion for gynecological disorders.

Glyceria grandis (gly sear' ee ah gran' dis)

  • Synonyms: None
  • Common names: tall manna grass, white spear grass, reed meadow grass
  • Origin and habitat: Native; swamps, ditches, river banks, and lakeshores
  • Identifying characters: A tall perennial (1-1.5m) with leaf sheaths somewhat keeled near the collar. A very distinguishing feature is the tubular shape of the ligules, which are 1-5 mm long. The inflorescence is an open nodding panicle with somewhat purplish spikelets.

Glyceria striata (gly sear' ee ah stry a' tah)

  • Synonyms: None
  • Common names: pale manna grass, waterfowl manna grass
  • Origin and habitat: Native; generally in swamps and marshes, ditches, and river banks
  • Identifying characters: Leaf sheaths are somewhat keeled, especially near the collar. Like G. grandis, the ligules are tubular in shape and up to 5 mm long. The inflorescence is a slightly nodding panicle with green or purplish lemmas. This species differs mainly in having smaller spikelets (2.5-4 mm vs. 4-6.5 mm in G. grandis).
  • Comments: There can be considerable variation in plant height and panicle fullness, as well as lemma length. This is another native cool-season grass.


Glyceria Canadensis Map      

Additional species in Minnesota:
G. borealis

Copyright 2002, A.F. Cholewa, J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota / No portion of this guide may be duplicated without written permission of author.