Phragmites australis (reedgrass, giant reed, marsh reed, yellow cane, Danube grass, carrizo, Roseau cane)

description: herbaceous perennial

place of origin: Europe, Asia, North America

urban habitat: commonly found on roadsides, vacant lots, urban meadows, in compacted soil; drought tolerant, tolerant of road salt, can thrive in full sun or shade.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground; erosion control on slopes; soil conservation; food for livestock; contains an endophytic, which in increases its tolerance of environmental stress.

history: Phragmites australis is one of the most widely distributed flowering plants, occurring in every continent except Antarctica. Although there is a native species, currently the non-native variety of Common Reed is most prevalent in North America and is considered a noxious weed in many US states. Phragmites australis was introduced unintentionally into North America in the early 1800’s. Europeans used the dry stalks for thatched roofs, for making quill pens, and for livestock grazing. In Russia, the plant has been used for making paper. Many Native American tribes used it medicinally, as treatment for diarrhea, stomach ailments, and as an expectorant. The plant was also widely used as a building material and for making pipe stems, mats, rugs, bedding, clothing, cooking tools and baskets. Its stems were used for making arrows and musical instruments. Its seeds, stems, and roots were also consumed as food.