Phragmites is a genus of four species of large perennial grasses found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, maintained by Kew Garden in London, accepts the following four species:
|Phragmites australis seed head in winter|
The cosmopolitan common reed has the generally accepted botanical name Phragmites australis. (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. About 130 other synonyms have been proposed, and some have been widely used. Examples include Phragmites communis Trin., Arundo phragmites L., and Phragmites vulgaris (Lam.) Crép. (illegitimate name).
Recent studies have characterised morphological distinctions between the introduced and native stands of Phragmites australis in North America. The Eurasian phenotype can be distinguished from the North American phenotype by its shorter ligules of up to 0.9 millimetres (0.04 in) as opposed to over 1.0 millimetre (0.04 in), shorter glumes of under 3.2 millimetres (0.13 in) against over 3.2 millimetres (0.13 in) (although there is some overlap in this character), and in culm characteristics.
In North America, the status of Phragmites australis was a source of confusion and debate. It was commonly considered an exotic species and often invasive species, introduced from Europe. However, there is evidence of the existence of Phragmites as a native plant in North America long before European colonization of the continent. It is now known that the North American native forms of P. a. subsp. americanus are markedly less vigorous than European forms. The recent marked expansion of Phragmites in North America may be due to the more vigorous, but similar-looking European subsp. australis.
Phragmites outcompetes native vegetation and lowers the local plant biodiversity. Phragmites forms dense thickets of vegetation that is unsuitable habitat for native fauna. Phragmites displaces native plants species such as wild rice, cattails, and native wetland orchids. Phragmites has a high above ground biomass that blocks light to other plants allowing areas to turn into Phragmites monoculture very quickly. Decomposing Phragmites increases the rate of marsh accretion more rapidly than would occur with native marsh vegetation.
Phragmites australis subsp. australis is causing serious problems for many other North American hydrophyte wetland plants, including the native Phragmites australis subsp. americanus. Gallic acid released by Phragmites is degraded by ultraviolet light to produce mesoxalic acid, effectively hitting susceptible plants and seedlings with two harmful toxins. Phragmites is so difficult to control that one of the most effective methods of eradicating the plant is to burn it over 2-3 seasons. The roots grow so deep and strong that one burn is not enough. Ongoing research suggests that goats could be effectively used to control the species.
Since 2017, over 80% of the beds of Phragmites in the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area have been damaged by the invasive "roseau cane scale", Nipponaclerda biwakoensis, threatening wildlife habitat throughout the affected regions of the WMA. While typically considered a noxious weed, in Louisiana the reed beds are considered critical to the stability of the shorelines of wetland areas and waterways of the Mississippi Delta, and the die-off of reed beds is believed to accelerate coastal erosion.
Phragmites australis, common reed, commonly forms extensive stands (known as reed beds), which may be as much as 1 square kilometre (0.39 sq mi) or more in extent. Where conditions are suitable it can also spread at 5 metres (16 ft) or more per year by horizontal runners, which put down roots at regular intervals. It can grow in damp ground, in standing water up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) or so deep, or even as a floating mat. The erect stems grow to 2–6 metres (6 ft 7 in–19 ft 8 in) tall, with the tallest plants growing in areas with hot summers and fertile growing conditions.
The leaves are long for a grass, 20–50 centimetres (7.9–19.7 in) and 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.18 in) broad. The flowers are produced in late summer in a dense, dark purple panicle, about 20–50 cm long. Later the numerous long, narrow, sharp pointed spikelets appear greyer due to the growth of long, silky hairs. These eventually help disperse the minute seeds.
It is a helophyte (aquatic plant), especially common in alkaline habitats, and it also tolerates brackish water, and so is often found at the upper edges of estuaries and on other wetlands (such as grazing marsh) which are occasionally inundated by the sea. A study demonstrated that Phragmites australis has similar greenhouse gas emissions to native Spartina alterniflora. However, other studies have demonstrated that it is associated with larger methane emissions and greater carbon dioxide uptake than native New England salt marsh vegetation that occurs at higher marsh elevations. 
Common reed is very important (together with other reed-like plants) for wildlife and conservation, particularly in Europe and Asia, where several species of birds are strongly tied to large Phragmites stands. These include:
In Australia, reedbeds provide cover for grassbirds (Megalurus spp), reed warblers (Acrocephalus spp), crakes (Porzana spp) and bitterns (Ixobrychus spp) and the Australian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus).
P. australis is cultivated as an ornamental plant in aquatic and marginal settings such as pond- and lakesides. Its aggressive colonisation means it must be sited with care.
Phragmites australis is one of the main wetland plant species used for phytoremediation water treatment.
Waste water from lavatories and greywater from kitchens is routed to an underground septic tank-like compartment where the solid waste is allowed to settle out. The water then trickles through a constructed wetland or artificial reed bed, where bioremediation bacterial action on the surface of roots and leaf litter removes some of the nutrients in biotransformation. The water is then suitable for irrigation, groundwater recharge, or release to natural watercourses.
Reed is used in many areas for thatching roofs. In the British Isles, common reed used for this purpose is known as Norfolk reed or water reed. However "wheat reed" and "Devon reed", also used for thatching, are not in fact reed, but long-stemmed wheat straw.
In Middle East countries Phragmites is used to create a small instrument similar to the clarinet called a sipsi, with either a single, as in the picture, or double pipes as in bagpipes. The reed of the zurna is made from the common reed which is flattened after removing its brittle outer glaze and the loose inner membrane, and after softening it by wetting. The result is a double reed with an elliptical opening that vibrates by closing and opening at a high speed. This is not to be confused with other double reeds like that of the oboe which uses two reeds made from the giant reed leaning against each other.
Numerous parts of Phragmites can be prepared for consumption. For example, the young stems "while still green and fleshy, can be dried and pounded into a fine powder, which when moistened is roasted [sic] like marshmallows." Also, the wheat-like seeds on the apex of the stems "can be ground into flour or made into gruel." Rootstocks are used similarly.
Some other uses for Phragmites australis and other reeds in various cultures include baskets, mats, pen tips, and in Romania it was used to produce paper and other cellulose based products. Additionally, the reeds are used as nesting tubes by individuals keeping solitary bees such as mason bees.
In the Philippines, Phragmites is known by the local name "tambo". Reed stands flower in December, and the blooms are harvested and bundled into brooms called "walis". Hence the common name of household brooms is "walis tambo".
When Midas had his ears transformed into donkey's ears, he concealed the fact and his barber was sworn to secrecy. However the barber could not contain himself and rather than confiding in another human, he spoke the secret into a hole in the ground. The reeds that grew in that place then repeated the secret in whispers.
Moses was "drawn out of the water where his mother had placed him in a reed basket to save him from the death that had been decreed by the Pharaoh against the firstborn of all of the children of Israel in Egypt" (Exodus 2:10). However, the plant concerned may have been another reed-like plant, such as papyrus, which is still used for making boats.
One reference to reeds in European literature is Frenchman Blaise Pascal's saying that Man is but a 'thinking reed' — roseau pensant. In Jean de La Fontaine's famous fable The Oak and the Reed — Le chêne et le roseau, the reed tells the proud oak: "I bend, and break not" —"Je plie, et ne romps pas", "before the tree's fall."
'X' Intertwining was a public artwork by American artist Roy Staab, located in Riverside Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 'X' Intertwining is an installation made of approximately five hundred phragmites gathered from the Milwaukee River. It was constructed in August 2009 and was designed to hang directly over a fire pit. Its dimensions were variable because of its irregular shape and slow deterioration but averaged forty by twenty-four feet shortly after construction.Aquatic plant
Aquatic plants are plants that have adapted to living in aquatic environments (saltwater or freshwater). They are also referred to as hydrophytes or macrophytes. A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is either emergent, submergent, or floating, and includes helophytes (a plant that grows in marsh, partly submerged in water, so that it regrows from buds below the water surface). In lakes and rivers macrophytes provide cover for fish and substrate for aquatic invertebrates, produce oxygen, and act as food for some fish and wildlife.Aquatic plants require special adaptations for living submerged in water, or at the water's surface. The most common adaptation is aerenchyma, but floating leaves and finely dissected leaves are also common. Aquatic plants can only grow in water or in soil that is permanently saturated with water. They are therefore a common component of wetlands.Fringing stands of tall vegetation by water basins and rivers may include helophytes. Examples include stands of Equisetum fluviatile, Glyceria maxima, Hippuris vulgaris, Sagittaria, Carex, Schoenoplectus, Sparganium, Acorus, yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus), Typha and Phragmites australis.Arundo
Arundo is a genus of stout, perennial plants in the grass family.
Arundo is native to southern Europe, North Africa, and much of temperate Asia as far east as Japan. They grow to 3–6 m tall, occasionally to 10 m, with leaves 30–60 cm long and 3–6 cm broad.
SpeciesArundo collina Ten.
Arundo donax L. – Giant cane, Spanish cane (south and east Mediterranean, to India; naturalised in many additional areas and often invasive)
Arundo formosana Hack. – Nansei-shoto, Taiwan, Philippines
Arundo mediterranea Danin – Mediterranean
Arundo micrantha Lam. – Mediterranean
Arundo plinii Turra – Pliny's reed – Greece, Italy, Albania, CroatiaThere are over 200 species once considered part of Arundo but now regarded as better suited to other genera: Achnatherum, Agrostis, Ammophila, Ampelodesmos, Arthrostylidium, Arundinaria, Austroderia, Austrofestuca, Bambusa, Calamagrostis, Calammophila, Calamovilfa, Chionochloa, Chusquea, Cinna, Cortaderia, Dendrocalamus, Deschampsia, Dupontia, Gastridium, Gigantochloa, Graphephorum, Gynerium, Imperata, Indocalamus, Melica, Miscanthus, Molinia, Muhlenbergia, Neyraudia, Phalaris, Phragmites, Poa, Psammochloa, Rytidosperma, Saccharum, Schizostachyum, Scolochloa, Stipa, Thysanolaena, Trisetaria.British NVC community W2
NVC community W2 (Salix cinerea - Betula pubescens - Phragmites australis woodland) is one of the woodland communities in the British National Vegetation Classification system. It is one of seven woodland communities in the NVC classed as "wet woodlands".
This is a fairly locally distributed community. There are two subcommunities.Carting Island
Carting Island is the largest of the four islands owned by Stratford, Connecticut in the Housatonic River between I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. The island is north of the Moses Wheeler Bridge, east of Peacock Island (Connecticut), and southwest of Long Island (Connecticut), and Pope's Flat, it is also south of Fowler Island in Milford and the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Bridge. The island is uninhabited except for occasional visits by anglers, bird watchers and duck hunters. All transportation to and from the island is by boat.
From 2011 the island was part of a multi-year wetland restoration report by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The project goal was to eradicate an invasive species of plant known as Phragmites.Cynodon
Cynodon is a genus of plants in the grass family. It is native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Old World, as well as being cultivated and naturalized in the New World and on many oceanic islands.
The genus name comes from Greek words meaning "dog-tooth". The genus as a whole as well as its species are commonly known as Bermuda grass or dog's tooth grass.
SpeciesCynodon aethiopicus - Africa; introduced in South Africa, Queensland, Hawaii, Texas
Cynodon barberi - India, Sri Lanka
Cynodon coursii - Madagascar
Cynodon dactylon - Old World; introduced in New World and on various islands
Cynodon incompletus - southern Africa; introduced in Australia, Argentina
Cynodon × magennisii - Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga; introduced in Texas, Alabama
Cynodon nlemfuensis - Africa from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe; introduced in South Africa, West Africa, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Texas, Florida, Mesoamerica, northern South America, various islands
Cynodon plectostachyus - Chad, East Africa; introduced in Madagascar, Bangladesh, Mexico, West Indies, Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, Texas, California
Cynodon radiatus - China, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Madagascar; introduced in Australia, New Guinea
Cynodon transvaalensis - South Africa, Lesotho; introduced in other parts of Africa plus in scattered locales in Iran, Australia, and the AmericasFormerly includedSeveral species now considered better suited to other genera, namely Arundo, Bouteloua, Brachyachne, Chloris, Cortaderia, Ctenium, Digitaria, Diplachne, Eleusine, Enteropogon, Eragrostis, Eustachys, Gynerium, Leptochloa, Molinia, Muhlenbergia, Phragmites, Poa, Spartina, Tridens, and Trigonochloa.Donacaula mucronella
Donacaula mucronella is a species of moth of the family Crambidae. It is found in Europe.
The wingspan is 22–26 mm for the male and 29–35 mm for females. The moth flies from June to September depending on the location.
The larvae feed on Carex, Carex riparia, Glyceria maxima and Phragmites.Hakonechloa
Hakonechloa is a genus of bunchgrass in the tribe Molinieae of the grass family, Poaceae, native to eastern Asia.
Hakonechloa macra, with the common names Hakone grass and Japanese forest grass, is the only species in the monotypic genus. It is endemic to Japan.Laelia coenosa
Laelia coenosa (reed tussock) is a species of moth of the family Erebidae. It is found in North Africa, southern and central Europe, through Russia and eastern Asia up to Japan.
The wingspan is 35–50 mm. The moth flies from July to August depending on the location.
The larvae primarily feed on Phragmites australis and Phragmites communis, but also Festuca, Carex and Cladium species.Lake Barracoota
Lake Barracoota is a naturally forming permanent freshwater lake located in the East Gippsland region in the Australian state of Victoria. The lake is located entirely within the Croajingolong National Park and when full, the surface area of the lake is 240 hectares (590 acres).
The eastern shoreline of the lake lie against a granite spur of the Howe Range but all other shorelines are backed by dune sand or swamp deposits. Beaches at the eastern and western shores and spits along the southern shore are formed from sand blown into the lake from coastal dunes and which is being moved by wave and wave currents. Sand is spilling into the lake from active parabolic dunes at two points along the southern shore. Other lake shorelines are fringed by Baumea rubiginosa, Eleocharis sphacelata and Trigloching procera, with Phragmites australis at points of fresh water inflow. Behind the reeds and sedges are extensive thickets.Leucania obsoleta
The Obscure Wainscot (Leucania obsoleta) is a moth of the family Noctuoidea. It is found in Europe.
The length of the forewings is 15–18 mm. The moth flies in one generation from early May to late July.The larvae feed on Phragmites species.Leucania phragmitidicola
Leucania phragmitidicola (phragmites wainscot) is a species of moth of the family Noctuidae found in the eastern United States and Canada.Molinieae
Molinieae is a tribe of grasses, containing 13 genera, including reed (Phragmites) and moor-grass (Molinia).Peat
Peat (), also known as turf (), is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter. It is unique to natural areas called peatlands, bogs, mires, moors, or muskegs. The peatland ecosystem is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet, because peatland plants capture CO2 naturally released from the peat, maintaining an equilibrium. In natural peatlands, the "annual rate of biomass production is greater than the rate of decomposition", but it takes "thousands of years for peatlands to develop the deposits of 1.5 to 2.3 m [4.9 to 7.5 ft], which is the average depth of the boreal [northern] peatlands". Sphagnum moss, also called peat moss, is one of the most common components in peat, although many other plants can contribute. The biological features of Sphagnum mosses act to create a habitat aiding peat formation, a phenomenon termed 'habitat manipulation'. Soils consisting primarily of peat are known as histosols. Peat forms in wetland conditions, where flooding or stagnant water obstructs the flow of oxygen from the atmosphere, slowing the rate of decomposition.Peatlands, particularly bogs, are the primary source of peat,
although less-common wetlands including fens, pocosins, and peat swamp forests also deposit peat. Landscapes covered in peat are home to specific kinds of plants including Sphagnum moss, ericaceous shrubs, and sedges (see bog for more information on this aspect of peat). Because organic matter accumulates over thousands of years, peat deposits provide records of past vegetation and climate by preserving plant remains, such as pollen. This allows the reconstruction of past environments and study changes in land use.Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world. By volume, there are about 4 trillion cubic metres (5.2 trillion cubic yards) of peat in the world, covering a total of around 2% of the global land area (about 3 million square kilometres or 1.2 million square miles), containing about 8 billion terajoules of energy. Over time, the formation of peat is often the first step in the geological formation of other fossil fuels such as coal, particularly low-grade coal such as lignite.Depending on the agency, peat is not generally regarded as a renewable source of energy, due to its extraction rate in industrialized countries far exceeding its slow regrowth rate of 1 mm per year, and as it is also reported that peat regrowth takes place only in 30-40% of peatlands. Because of this, the UNFCCC, and another organization affiliated with the United Nations classified peat as a fossil fuel. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has begun to classify peat as a "slowly renewable" fuel. This is also the classification used by many in the peat industry. At 106 g CO2/MJ, the carbon dioxide emission intensity of peat is higher than that of coal (at 94.6 g CO2/MJ) and natural gas (at 56.1) (IPCC).Redcar Field
Redcar Field is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Darlington district of County Durham, England. It is situated just north of Darlington, about 1 km south of the village of Coatham Mundeville.
The site, which is one of the few spring-fed areas on the magnesian limestone of County Durham, has a variety of fen vegetation types such as are not found together elsewhere in the county, including the only example of fen-meadow in the region.
The fen meadow, in which blunt-flowered rush, Juncus subnodulosus, is dominant, grades into open flushes. These are carpeted with fern-leaved hook-moss, Cratoneuron filicinum, curled hook-moss, Palustriella commutata, and pointed spear-moss, Calliergon cuspidatum, and support typical fen herbs such as marsh valerian, Valeriana dioica, and early marsh orchid, Dactylorhiza incarnata.Another, and more extensive, fen type is tall fen, dominated by common reed, Phragmites australis, and great willow herb, Epilobium hirsutum. On the edge of the tall fen, the locally scarce meadow rue, Thalictrum flavum, is plentiful.
About one-quarter of the site is occupied by willow carr, dominated by crack willow, Salix fragilis, beneath which the field layer contains a mix of tall fen and woodland plants, the latter including wood avens, Geum rivale, male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, and, at the edge of the carr, globe flower, Trollius europaeus.Reed (plant)
Reed is a common name for several tall, grass-like plants of wetlands.Salakot
A salakót is a traditional wide-brimmed hat from the Philippines. It is often made of either rattan or Phragmites reeds, and is a Filipino traditional headdress similar to the iconic conical hat found in neighbouring Southeast and East Asian countries. The Visayans also call this headgear "sadok" or "sarok".Senta flammea
The Flame Wainscot (Senta flammea) is a species of moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found from Europe to Japan, but is not found on the Iberian Peninsula, the islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Greece and central and southern Italy.
The wingspan is 32–40 mm. The moth flies from May to June depending on the location.
The larvae feed on Phragmites, including Phragmites australis.Weston Fen
Weston Fen is a 49.7 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hopton in Suffolk. It is part of the Waveney and Little Ouse Valley Fens Special Areas of Conservation, and an area of 37 hectares is managed as a nature reserve called Market Weston Fen by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.This spring-fed valley fen has a high and stable water table, and as a result it has a rich and varied flora. The dominant plants in the central fen area are saw sedge, the reed Phragmites australis and blunt-flowered rush. Other habitats include tall fen grassland, heath and a stream. There are many dragonflies and damselflies.There is access from Fen Street. Parking for 3-4 cars on verge immediately after the signposted public footpath and entrance to fen.