Elymus riparius (Riverbank Wild Rye) - Plugs


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Please note - The nursery is now closed for the year, we are no longer taking orders for 2020.

About Riverbank Wild Rye

Widespread over Eastern North America, Riverbank Wild Rye (Elymus riparius) is a common grass of floodplain forests and stream edges.  Never common in any location, riverbank wild rye is a very ornamental grass for wetland and conservation plantings.

Riverbank wild rye is similar to the much more common Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus); it differs in that the seed heads are more arching and fountain-like, giving a more ornamental appearance.  Like all Wild Ryes, riverbank wild rye is a cool-season grass, growing the most in the cooler weather of the Spring and Fall, blooming and going dormant over the warm summer season.

Riverbank wild rye grows to 2-3 feet tall, though it will grow even taller than that in rich, alluvial floodplain soils.  The seed heads bear a striking resemblance to cultivated cereal rye, and the grain is actually edible and highly nutritious; the individual grains are small with a stiff awn that makes them difficult to use in traditional meals and flours, though.


Riverbank wild rye is a very useful grass for rain gardens and riparian buffer plantings - It grows quickly to size the first season, setting seed which helps it establish further.  As plantings become more established, riverbank wild rye slowly fades out, giving way to longer-lived grasses, sedges & herbs.

Riverbank wild rye has a very nutritious grain, making it a good component of a deer habitat mix.  Deer feed on the grass, and especially the grain - The grain matures in summer, helping deer to put on weight before the winter.

How to Grow Riverbank Wild Rye

Riverbank wild rye is very easy to grow - Plant plugs 9-12 inches apart in prepared ground, and water several times.  Further irrigation is usually unneccessary.

Riverbank wild rye combines well with other wetland and edge plants - Combine with Rose Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) for a long-blooming, rich rain garden that helps native pollinator populations.

We provide riverbank wild rye in both Quart SuperPlugs and RootMaker 32-Cell Trays - These both establish very quickly due to the natural root-pruning of the containers.

Common Name: Riverbank Wild Rye
Botanical Name: Elymus riparius