Riverbank wild rye is a large grass that at its extreme can get ten feet tall. The long awns of this and related Elymus are rough, and serve well to protect the seed head as it matures. The leaves are also scabrous. They give us an uncomfortable window into life in the days of yore. David Jones in Comanche Plant Medicine says they were used as eye scrapers for removing cataracts. Let's hear it for lasers! Riverbank wild rye grows in shade or semi shade in AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, ON, and QC. Lenawee Co MI, 6/13/17. Grass family, Poaceae.