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Virginia Wild rye

Virginia Wild rye (Elymus virginicus)

Virginia Wild rye
(Elymus virginicus)


  • 4 feet


  • May to September


  • Native
  • Perennial


  • Full sun to shade (prefers some shade)

Soil moisture:

  • Medium to moist

Provides food for:

  • Caterpillars (foliage)
  • Songbirds (seeds, caterpillars and other insects)


  • Virginia wild rye is a clump forming grass that also readily self-seeds.
  • Can be aggressive because of how quickly it self-seeds, but that feature also makes it a good choice for wet areas that are prone to erosion.
  • Virginia wild rye is a cool season grass which means that most of its growth occurs during the cooler months of the year.
  • Provides important nesting cover and habitat for a wide range of birds during the summer.
  • The vegetation remains standing throughout the winter which provides shelter to songbirds and other small wildlife.
  • Seed have barbs which have the potential to scratch or damage a dog’s eye, so might not be a good choice for yards frequented by dogs.

Native Range:

USDA range map for Virginia Wild rye (Elymus virginicus)
Map credit: USDA Plants Database