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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Phragmites australis - common reed

Synonyms: Phragmites communis, Phragmites communis Trin. ssp. berlandieri, Phragmites communis Trin. var. berlandieri, Phragmites phragmites

Other Common Names: common reedgrass, giant reed

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Introduced    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Found in wet or muddy ground along streams, ditches, in marshes, and at the edges of lakes and ponds.
Plant Communities: Riparian, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: Below 6000 feet

Similar Species: Arundo sp.

General Description

Desc: Stout erect rhizomatous and stoloniferous perennial, often forming dense stands. Stems are up to 20 feet tall and branch above the base of the plant and at stem nodes. Stems are tan in color and ridged or ribbed.
Identification notes: Differs from Arundo sp. in having wedge-shaped light to dark brown areas at base of blades. Perennials up to 13 feet tall with broad blades and large terminal plumose seedheads and several flowered spikelets.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: Y  Stolons: Y
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): Y  Bushy (highly branched): Y
Height with Seedheads: Greater than 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - open and spreading  Seedhead Droops: Y
Flowering Period: Jul - Sep

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: Multi-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: Absent   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: N

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedheads spreading, bushy, egg shaped, usually purple or golden in color, up to 20 inches long. Spikelets have 3 to 10 florets that appear gray at maturity due to the growth of long, silky hairs from each spikelet. Lemma tips long, taper to sharp point.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: N  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Flat or folded  
Blade Notes: Bluish-green blades are smooth, up to 2 feet long by 1-1/4 inches wide with pointed tips, and are flat or folded.
Sheath Hairy: N  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: N  Ligules: Membranous and hairy
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: Each leaf consists of a blade and a loose sheath separated by hairy ligules that form minute membranous rims fringed with hairs. Leaf sheaths adhere tightly to stems throughout the growing season.

Forage Value: Young plants of common reed are considered very palatable and are readily grazed by sheep and cattle. Mature plants are tough and unpalatable to livestock and wildlife.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Content Questions/Comments: Email Mary Barnes  
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