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Common Reed
Phragmites australis
About Common Reed (Phragmites australis) Nurseries Show All Photos Phragmites australis, the common reed, is a large perennial grass found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. It is sometimes regarded as the sole species of the genus Phragmites, though some botanists divide Phragmites australis into three or four species and in particular the South Asian Khagra Reed (P. karka) is often treated as distinct. Common reed commonly forms extensive stands (known as reed beds), which may be as much as a square kilometer or more in extent. Where conditions are suitable it can spread at 5 meters (16 feet) or more per year by horizontal runners, which put down roots at regular intervals. It can grow in damp ground, in standing water (up to a meter or so deep), or even as a floating mat. The erect stems grow to 2-6 meters (6 feet 7 in-19 feet 8 inches) tall, with the tallest plants growing in areas with hot summers and fertile growing conditions.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
6.6 - 19.7 ft (2 - 6 m)


Growth Rate

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Pond and lake edges, sloughs, marshes


Elevation ?
-271' - 6329'

Annual Precip. ?
1.9" - 63.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.20" - 2.75"

Coldest Month ?
31.3° F - 61.0° F

Hottest Month ?
56.7° F - 90.4° F

Humidity ?
0.47 vpd - 48.26 vpd

Soil Description
Adaptable, tolerant of sand, loam and clay


Sunset Zones ?
1, 2*, 3*, 4, 5, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12, 14*, 15, 16, 17, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24

Butterflies ?


Landscaping Information
Common uses
Bogs and Ponds

Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Other Names
Common Names
American Common Reed

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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