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Illinois Native Plant Guide - Nodding Wild Rye - Pages 78-79

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Nodding Wild Rye (Canada Wild Rye)
Elymus canadensis

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Mesic species. Prefers moderately well to poorly drained soil. Minimal inundation tolerance.

Wildlife Value

Provides habitat for small mammals. Vegetative parts are palatable to grazing species.


Fibrous, wide spreading root system can stabilize upper shoreline zones, streambanks, upland slope buffers, and vegetated swales. Also a good pioneer species.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

  • Seed is widely available from commercial vendors.
  • Seeding is recommended. Seed germination is better if seeds are stratified for one month at 32o F. Best germination of seed occurs if they are drilled into soil to a depth of 1-1.5 inches.
  • Rangeland drill or hopper type seed broadcaster may be used to plant seeds. If broadcasting, seeds must be covered lightly with soil. Mixing seed with sand and other grass and forb species dispersed with a hand hopper or cyclone spreader facilitates establishment of prairie species in small areas.
  • One source recommends planting at 0.5 to 1.0 lbs/acre because the species is too short-lived and expensive to plant at a heavier rate. A complete stand will result in two to three years if planted at this rate.
  • Spreads quickly from seed but dies back after a few years.

Nodding Wild Rye (Canada Wild Rye)
Elymus canadensis

Mature Height
3-6 feetNodding Wild Rye (Canada Wild Rye)

Plant Type
Perennial grass

Indicator Status
Facultative (-)

Wide range

Nutrient Load Tolerance

Salt Tolerance
Not available

Siltation Tolerance

Flowering Color and Time
July to October

Light Preference
Partial to full sun

Seeding Rate
.02 - 2 lbs/acre

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