Native Plant Database

Header Photo: Mervin Wallace

Virginia Wild Rye

Elymus virginicus
Plant Type: Grasses / Sedges / Rushes
Native Environment: Stream Edge
Season of Interest: Mid (May - June), Late (July - frost)
Main Color: Green
Fall Color: Brown

USDA PLANTS Range Map

At the range map link above, zoom in for county-level data

Backlit Virginia Wild Rye plant.
Photo: Mervin Wallace
Sun Exposure 
Full Sun, Medium Sun/Average Shade
Soil
Moisture
Dry, Moderate, High
Nature Attracting
Wildlife Benefit
Butterfly / Moth Host, Food/Birds, Food/Small Animals
Animal
Resistance
Deer Resistant
Size

Height:

24 to
48
inches

Spread:

12 to
24
inches
Size
Height: 24 to
48
inches
Spread: 12 to
24
inches
Size
Height: 24 to
48
inches
Spread: 12 to
24
inches
Typical Landscape Use
Appropriate for areas where tendency to re-seed will not be problematic, including prairies plantings and wild or native plant gardens. Also useful for rain gardens as well as soil stabilization in areas prone to erosion. Canada Wild Rye may be better choice in more formally landscaped areas.
Establishment and Care Instructions
Propagated readily by seed and self-seeds freely; will spread once established. Will grow on various soils but well-drained loams that are moist and moderately fertile are ideal. A little shade benefits the plant, but full sun is tolerated.
Special Features
Ornamental Fruits / Seed Pods / Seed Heads
Special Usage
Rainscaping
Basic Description

Cool-season grass with flat leaves that grow in bunches and generally upright-positioned flowering structures that resemble those of wheat. Foliage grows to 1′; much taller seedheads appear beginning in June, initially greenish and remaining attractive as they turn tan along with foliage in fall. Canada Wild Rye’s seedheads are nodding in comparison to this Rye’s, which are more upright. Host plant for larvae of false wainscot and several other moths (including Elachista epimicta, E. illectella, and E. leucofrons).

Where Should I Start?

Check out the Grow Native! Committee’s Top Ten picks of native plants for a particular purpose.

What’s the Next Step?

Picked out your plants? View our Resource Guide of garden centers, seed sources, landscapers, education resources, and more!

Where Can I Find This Plant in Nature?

Learn about the Native Environment(s) inhabited by the plants in this database.

Support the Grow Native! Program