Invasive Species -


Common Reed
(Phragmites australis [Cav.] Trin. ex Steud.)

Photos & Description courtesy of IPANE

Where it's from

Some are native species that have been here for over 3,000 years while others, known as excotics, were introduced by settlers.


What Common Reed does to the habitat

Eliminates habitat for many birds. They are so fast growing and aggressive they clog waterways and can take over shallow ponds. With their dense growth they shade out native marsh plants.



For small stands you can cut it and come back and cut it again until you finally eradicate it. Large stands require professional help. Techniques range from burning to aerial spraying, flooding and disking.


Common Name

Full Scientific Name

Common reed Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.

Family Name Common

Family Scientific Name

Grass family Phragmites australis



Botanical Glossary

Phragmites australis is a stout grass that measures 2-4 m (6.5-13 ft.) in height. It is most often seen in large colonies. The stems and leaves are smooth and glabrous. The gray-green leaves are acuminate in shape, 25-50 cm (10-20 in.) long and 2-3 cm (0.75-1 in.) wide. Long white hairs are present at the leaf-sheath junction. The light brown to purple inflorescence is 20-40 cm (7.5-15 in.) long. The spiklets have 3-7 flowers and appear between July and September. The flowers are surrounded by silky white hairs. The first glume is narrowly elliptic and blunt, while the second is linear and nearly twice as long as the first. The lemmas are narrow, 8-12 mm (0.3-0.5 in.) wide. The rachilla hairs are white and as long as the lemmas. However, they are not visible until after the flowers bloom. The seeds are brown, light weight, and about 8 mm (0.3 in.) long. In the fall the plant turns brown, and the inflorescences persist throughout the winter. Page References Crow & Hellquist 261, Gleason & Cronquist 781, Holmgren 732, Magee & Ahles 153.

Previous Image | Back to Gallery | Next Image