common reed

Phragmites australis (Cavanilles) Trinius ex Steudel

U.S. Nativity: Native
Habit: Herb

Synonym(s): phragmites

Phragmites australis is a tall, perennial grass that can grow to heights of 15 ft. (4.6 m) or more. Broad, pointed leaves arise from thick, vertical stalks.
Leaves are 6-23.6 in. (15-60 cm) long, 0.4-2.4 in. (1-6 cm) wide, flat and glabrous.
The flower heads are dense, fluffy, gray or purple in color and 5.9-15.7 in. (15-40 cm) long. Flowering occurs from July to October.
The seeds are brown, light weight, and about 0.3 in. (8 mm) long. In the fall the plant turns brown, and the inflorescences persist throughout the winter.
Ecological Threat
Phragmites australis is usually found in dense thickets growing in or near shallow water. These thickets displace native wetlands plants, alter hydrology and block sunlight to the aquatic community. It is native to Eurasia and Africa. Native Phragmites do occur in the United States and they are sometimes very difficult to distinguish from the exotics.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Phragmites Field Guide: Distinguishing Native and Exotic Forms of Common Reed in the U.S. - Plant Conservation Alliance
A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites - Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the Eastern United States - USDA Forest Service
Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas - Plant Conservation Alliance
Element Stewardship Abstract - The Nature Conservancy
Morphological differences between native and introduced genotypes - Cornell University
Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service
Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas - National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Best Management Practices - Ontarios Invading Species Awareness Program
Fact Sheet - Ontarios Invading Species Awareness Program
Field Guide - Ontarios Invading Species Awareness Program