Sunday, June 19, 2011

Giant Reed

Arundo donax
Also called Carrizo. A massive grass, reaching up to 20 ( records is 33 ) x 7 + feet, that is native to North America ( California to southrn Illinois to Maryland and south ). The stout stalks can reach up to 1.2 inches in diameter. A bit large and coarse for the average landscape but can make an excellent fast growing and seasonal screen, esp. in industrial parks. It even somewhat resembles Bamboo in appearance. It spreads from woody underground rhizomes and may become invasive on some sites, but planting in large containers will prevent this.
The blue-green leaves, up to 24 x 3 inches, are borne on corn-like stalks and are evergreen in the Deep South.
The flower plumes, up to 2 feet in length, appear during late summer into autumn.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 ( 5b on protected sites with deep mulch ) in full sun on fertile, moist to wet soil. It can both tolerate temporary drought roots up to 3.3 feet deep ) as well as occasional flooding. It is also very heat tolerant.
Propagation is easy from seed or by dividing the clump while dormant.
In dry areas it may be a fire hazard if dead plant material is allowed to persist.
Deer resistant.

* photo taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, PA

* photos taken on Aug 25 2012 in Baltimore Co., MD

* photo taken on Sep 6 2012 in Harford Co., MD

* photo taken by Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA NRCS. 1992. Western wetland flora

* historical archive photo

'Golden Chain' ( Golden Giant Reed )
Smaller and much less invasive spreading, only reaching up to 12 x 5 ( rarely over 7 ) feet in height, with mid-green leaves variegated with a bold golden-yellow edge.
Looks great with deep blue flowering plants.
Hardy zones 5 to 9 ( mulch in zone 5 & 6 during winter ).

* photos taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

Broader blue-green leaves.

'Peppermint Stick'
Fast growing but less invasive, reaching up to 12 x 8 feet with luxuriant foliage that is widely striped green and white.
The foliage retains its color as summer progresses.
The bronze flower plumes appear during autumn.
Hardy zones 6 to 9

* photos taken on Aug 1 2013 in Stratford, Ontario

'Variegata' ( Striped Giant Reed )
Similar except for growing only 2/3 the height with foliage that is boldly variegated with creamy-yellow stripes. An excellent architectural background plant for larger gardens. Looks great next to water.
Hardy zones 6 to 10

* photos of unknown internet source

* photo taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

* photo taken on July 2016 in Windsor, Ontario

* historical archive photo

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