Cinna arundinacea is a perennial C3 grass (Basinger 2002), 1-1.5 m tall, with about 5-10 nodes, base often slightly bulbous with bands of adventitious roots, solitary or few together; sheath open at top mostly longer than internode; ligule membranous, pale brownish, to about 0.5 cm long shredding with age.
Leaves alternate, flat, 15-40 cm long, 0.6-1.2 cm wide, midvein off-center, margins rough, and minutely puckered in spots, at least when young.
Flower spikelets 1-flowered, 0.5-0.6 cm long, glumes, unequal, the second about 0.5 cm, as long as lemma; inflorescence branched, narrow, 15-30 cm long, somewhat drooping, branches crowded, ascending, dull grayish green, pale tan with age; blooms and fruits Aug.-Oct.
Wetland status: FACW+.
Frequency in NYC: Occasional.
Habitat: Wet to moist woods, swamp forests, especially younger woodlands, soil pH 4-8.5, tolerant of shade, intolerant of fire, drought and salt (USDA, NRCS 2010).