Phalaris minor Retz. Lesser Canary Grass
Observ.Bot. 3:8 (1783)

Conservation Code: Not threatened
Naturalised Status: Alien to Western Australia
Name Status: Current

Brief Description
Grazyna Paczkowska, Thursday 2 December 1993

Tufted annual, grass-like or herb, 0.1-1 m high. Fl. green, Aug to Nov. Clay, loam, sand. Winter-wet flats, creeks, roadsides.


Beard’s Provinces: Eremaean Province, South-West Province.

IBRA Regions: Avon Wheatbelt, Esperance Plains, Geraldton Sandplains, Hampton, Jarrah Forest, Mallee, Swan Coastal Plain, Yalgoo.

IBRA Subregions: Avon Wheatbelt P1, Avon Wheatbelt P2, Edel, Fitzgerald, Geraldton Hills, Hampton, Northern Jarrah Forest, Perth, Recherche, Southern Jarrah Forest, Tallering, Western Mallee.

IMCRA Regions: Abrolhos Islands, Central West Coast, Leeuwin-Naturaliste.

Local Government Areas (LGAs): Bayswater, Bruce Rock, Busselton, Canning, Carnamah, Collie, Dardanup, Dundas, Esperance, Gingin, Gnowangerup, Greater Geraldton, Harvey, Kalamunda, Merredin, Moora, Murchison, Murray, Narrogin, Nedlands, Northam, Northampton, Perth, Ravensthorpe, Rockingham, Shark Bay, Swan, Yalgoo.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)
Kate Brown and Karen Bettink, Monday 26 August 2019

General Biology. Growth form. Grass. Life form. Annual, caespitose. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Wind, water, mammal. Photosynthetic Pathway. C3. Toxicity. Moderate human allergen, vertebrate mammal poison. Seedbank persistence. 1 year, longer if buried.

Notes. Thrives under fertile and moist conditions. Similar morphologically to wheat until the flowering stage. Self-pollinated. Has staggered germination that can occur over 9 weeks. Seed tends to survive longer when buried up to a depth of 40cm. Seed tolerates anaerobic conditions by entering secondary dormancy. Has recorded multiple herbicide resistance to Group A/1 herbicides (including Targa®).

Additional information. Origin. Portugal, Spain, northern Africa, temperate western Asia, Pakistan, Italy, France. History of use/introduction. Forage, seed contaminant.

Suggested method of management and control. Prevent seed set. Spray 8 ml/L Fusilade® Forte + wetting agent or for generic fluazifop-p (212g/L active ingredient) 5ml/L+ wetting agent. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Active Growth           Y Y Y Y Y Y    
Germination           Y Y Y          
Flowering                 O Y Y Y  
Fruiting                     Y Y  
Optimum Treatment             Y Y Y        

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



  • Arora, A. & Yaduraju, N.T. (1998) High-temperature effects on germination and viability of weed seeds in soil. Journal of Agronomy & Crop Science, 181 (1): 35-43.
  • Brown, K. & Brooks, K. (2002) Bushland Weeds: A Practical Guide to their Management. Environmental Weeds Action Network, Greenwood.
  • Carr, G.W., Yugovic, J.V. & Robinson, K.E. (1992) Environmental weed invasions in Victoria. Department of Conservation and Environment, Melbourne.
  • Chhokar, R.S. & Sharma, R.K. (2008) Multiple herbicide resistance in littleseed canarygrass (Phalaris minor): A threat to wheat production in India. Weed Biology and Management, 8 (2): 112-123.
  • Franke, A.C., Singh, S., McRoberts, N., Nehra, A.S., Godara, S., Malik, R.K. & Marshall, G. (2007) Phalaris minor seedbank studies: longevity, seedling emergence and seed production as affected by tillage regime. Weed Research, 47 (1): 73-83.
  • Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. & Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. 2nd Edition. The Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park.
  • Kaushik, S., Blackshaw, R.E. & Inderjit (2006) Ecology and management of an exotic weed, Phalaris minor. Invasive Plants: Ecological and Agricultural Aspects. : 181-193 Birkhäuser Basel, Switzerland.
  • Muhammad, J., Cheema, Z.A., Mushtaq, M.N., Muhammad, F. & Cheema, M.A. (2009) Alternative control of wild oat and canary grass in wheat fields by allelopathic plant water extracts. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 29 (3): 475-482.
  • Ohadi, S., Mashhadi, H.R. & Tavakol-Afshari, R. (2009) Seasonal changes in germination responses of seeds of the winter annual weed littleseed canarygrass (Phalaris minor) to light. Weed Science, 57: 613-619.
  • Om, H., Dhiman, S.D., Kumar, S. & Kumar, H. (2002) Allelopathic response of Phalaris minor to crop and weed plants in rice–wheat system. Crop Protection, 21 (9): 699-705.
  • Om, H., Kumar, S., Dhiman, S.D. (Undated) Dormancy and viability of Phalaris minor seed in a rice-wheat cropping system.
  • (2010) Lesser Canary Grass (Phalaris minor) allergy information. URL: - Accessed January 2010.
  • Singh, S., Kirkwood, R.C. & Marshall, G. (1999) Biology and control of Phalaris minor Retz. (littleseed canarygrass) in wheat. Crop Protection, 18: 1-16.
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program (2009) Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. URL: - Accessed October 2009.
  • Vincent, D. & Quirke, D. (2002) Controlling Phalaris minor in the Indian Rice-Wheat Belt. ACIAR Impact Assessment Series no. 18. Centre for International Economics, Canberra, ACT.
  • (2009) Group A/1 resistant little seed canary grass (Phalaris minor). URL: - Accessed January 2010.

Project information and acknowledgements