Reed - Phragmites australis
Common Reed is a large grass species that grows typically around wet
areas, often in riparian habitat or wet marshy edges of lakes. While it
can stand some terrestrial habitats, its not commonly found far from water.
Leaves tend to have a blueish ting to them and can grow up to 2 feet
long and 2 inches in diameter, although they are often found much shorter
The stalks of this plant are hollow and can grow up to 10 feet tall.
The size of this plant is one of the easier ways to distinguish this plant
from other invasive grasses.
The infloresence off the top is composed of many small flowers that create
a reddish 'top' to the plant.
Similar Species: The only other grass that can often be confused with
this plant is Arundo donax
or Giant Reed. Giant Reed also likes wet terrestrial habitats, but
has leaves and stalks that are MUCH larger and wider. Its terminal flower
infloresence is also much larger. For more information on telling the
difference watch the Giant Reed Video.
There has been a bit of controversy as to whether or not common reed
is truely an invasive species. While rhizomes from the plant have been
found in Native American peat cores, it seems odd that this plant has
been spreading so rapidly AND that native wildlife do not tend to use
this plant for food. Today common reed is found all around the world so
it is very difficult to asses where the plant may have come from. One
common theory today is that the plant actually was native, but it was
not until the more aggressive European genotype came to the Americas that
we started having a problem.
Links to more information
- a gateway to activities and programs on Common Reed from Federal
and State agencies.