Saturday, October 8, 2016

Common Reed

Phragmites australis
Reaches up to 13 ( rarely over 10 ) feet, often forming widespreading, dense, pure stands. It has naturalized throughout southern Canada and the the U.S. though is highly localized in the southeast. Extremely vigorous, its runners can spread up to 16 feet per year. A single rhizome may send shoots out from every node and reach up to 20 feet in a single season. Repeated cutting will weaken the plant however spraying in wetlands any time water is present ( basically any time other than extreme drought ) is NOT recommended anytime ever.
The lance-shaped leaves are up to 24 x 2.5 inches in size. The young shoots can eaten as a vegetable either either raw or boiled until tender.
Attractive flower panicles up to 12 inches in length, appear during late summer. Hardy zones 3 to 10 in full sun on moist soil. Very easy to grow and long lived, it rarely gets damage from any pest or disease.
In eastern Europe, up to 100 000 tons of pulp are produced annual from this plant on the Danube Delta. It cannot be used alone to produce paper alone but is mixed with 80 percent wood pulp. Common Reed thrives in polluted water, especially water that is contaminated with fertilizer runoff or sewage. It can be used to clean up contaminated sites.
It Germany, it is used as a biological sewage plant where the roots supply the bacteria that handle the sewage oxygen all while releating chemicals that kill bacteria.
OUtside its native range, Phragmites can damage wetlands. It is slow to decompose and stands can quickly accumulate alot of dead vegetation matter and become a fire hazard. It frequently invades shorelines, wetlands and ditches and can crows out native vegetation. It invades via seed or pieces of broken off rhizomes that take root. The roots of Phragmites release an acid that stunts or kills surrounding vegetation. The stalks are rigid and tough, wildlife has a hard time natigating through. Turtle and bird nesting habitat is decreased.

* photo taken by Robert H. Mohlenbrock. Midwest wetland flora
* photos of unknown internet source

* photo taken on Dec 1998 west of Leamington, Ontario

* photo taken on Sep 18 2016 @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD

Phragmites pseudodonax ( Giant Common Reed )
A massive grass, reaching up to 30 feet, that should only be used in large open areas where there is room.
Hardy zones 4 to 10

'Variegatus' ( Variegated Common Reed )
Lower growing, reaching a maximum of 8 feet with golden-yellow variegation.
Hardy zones 4 to 10 in full sun.

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