Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Phragmites australis (Cav.)Trin.
POACEAE (Grass Family)
EtymologyPhragmites means of fences, from the Greek: phragma = fence or screen, hedge.
Synonyms (Common Name)Giant Reed
DescriptionCommon reed is a tall perennial grass that grows 6-14' high and spreads vegetatively from stout rhizomes. It forms dense colonies in a wide variety of wetland habitats, from fresh to brackish water, and tolerates alkaline conditions as well. Common reed is an opportunistic colonizer of disturbed areas. The rhizomes can even spread across gravel parking lots. Currently, there is some debate as to whether Phragmitesis an introduced or native plant.
Wetland indicator statusFACW
Plant Height6-14 feet
LeavesLong (12 -- 24") tapering to a point, flat, broad (to 2" wide), tough; in two rows (2-ranked); borne along the entire length of the stem.
Flower/InflorescenceTerminal panicle 8-16" long; dense, plume-like; many ascending, spreading branches; spikelets contain 3-7 flowers, subtended by long, silky hairs; purplish when young; light brown when mature; panicle persistent through winter.
Flowering PeriodAugust-September
HabitatBogs, swamps, wet shores, freshwater marshes, brackish marshes, waste places.
RangeSouthern Canada and United States.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett