Canada Wild Rye is a native perennial bunchgrass that grows to 4 feet with erect or arching culms and flat, wide (up to 0.8 inches), waxy green, pointed leaves that grow from the base of the stem to the spike. Auricles are claw-like and clasping, arising from a broad, yellowish or light green collar. The thick and bristly spikelets can reach 10 inches in length, and are often 2 or 3 to a node.

Canada Wild Rye is a cool-season grass; it actively grows during the spring and fall when soil temperatures are cool. It is one of the first grasses to be prevalent throughout a planting, but after several years it largely will have given way to other grasses and wildflowers. The nodding seed heads are readily identifiable.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils. Easily grown from seed and self-seeds in optimum growing conditions.