Plants annual. Culms 10-100 cm, not swollen at the base. Ligules 5-12 mm, truncate to rounded, often lacerate; blades 3-15 cm long, 2-10 mm wide, smooth, shiny. Panicles 1-8 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, dense, ovoid-lanceoloid, truncate to rounded at the base, rounded apically, the spikelets borne individually, not clustered. Spikelets homogamous, all spikelets with a bisexual floret; florets 2; disarticulation above the glumes, beneath the sterile florets. Glumes 4-6.5 mm long, 1.2-2 mm wide, keels winged distally, wings 0.3-0.5 mm wide,irregularly dentate or crenate, occasionally entire, varying within a panicle, lateral veins conspicuous, smooth; sterile florets 1, 0.7-1.8 mm, linear, glabrous or almost so; bisexual florets 2.5-4 mm long, 1.2-1.8 mm wide, pubescent, dull yellow when immature, becoming shiny gray-brown at maturity, acute to somewhat acuminate; anthers 1-2 mm. 2n = 28, 29.
Phalaris minor is native around the Mediterranean and in northwestern Asia, but is now found throughout the world. Even where it is native, it usually grows in disturbed ground, often around harbors and near refuse dumps. Although it has been found at numerous locations in the United States, it is only established in the southern portion of the Flora region.
The compact panicle with its truncate to rounded base and the rather variable edges of the glume wings usually distinguish Phalaris minor from other species in the genus.
FNA 2003, Gould 1980
Common Name: littleseed canarygrass Duration: Annual Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Introduced annual grass; stems 10-100 cm long, geniculate and branching at base. Vegetative: Blades 3-15 cm long, 2-10 mm wide, smooth, shiny; ligules 5-12 mm, truncate to rounded, often lacerate. Inflorescence: Panicle 1-8 cm tall, 1-2 cm wide, dense, ovoid-lanceoloid, well exserted from the sheath at maturity, with the spikelets borne individually, not clustered; spikelets with 2 florets, the first sterile and the second bisexual; glumes 4-6.5 mm long, 1.2-2 mm wide, the keels winged distally with wings less than 0.5 mm wide, irregularly dentate or crenate or occasionally entire, varying within the panicle; sterile floret reduced to a 1 mm lemma; fertile lemma indurate, 2-4 mm long, dull yellow when immature and turning shiny gray-brown at maturity; spikelets disarticulate above the glumes and below the sterile floret. Ecology: Found in disturbed habitats, generally below 3,000 ft (914 m). Distribution: Native to the Mediterranean and nw Asia, now found throughout the world. In the US Southwest it is found in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, west through the Central Valley to the s CA coast. Notes: The compact panicle with its truncate to rounded base and the rather variable edges of the glume wings usually distinguish Phalaris minor from other species in the genus. Similar to P. caroliniana but the panicle in that species is more ovoid, with a rounded lower half, while P. minor has a more linear panicle. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Phalaris is from Greek phalaros, having a patch of white, crested, or phalos, shining, bright, white, and minor which means lesser. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley, 2010, AHazelton 2015