Naming▲ Back to topRecent studies have characterised morphological distinctions between the introduced and native stands of ''Phragmites'' in North America. The Eurasian phenotype can be distinguished from the North American phenotype by its shorter ligules of up to 0.9 millimetres as opposed to over 1.0 millimetre , shorter glumes of under 3.2 millimetres against over 3.2 millimetres , and in culm characteristics.
⤷ ''Phragmites australis'' subsp. ''americanus'' - Recently, the North American genotype has been described as a distinct subspecies, subsp. ''americanus'', and
⤷ ''Phragmites australis'' subsp. ''australis'' - the Eurasian variety is referred to as subsp. ''australis''.In North America, the status of ''Phragmites australis'' was a source of confusion and debate. It was commonly considered an exotic species and often invasive species, introduced from Europe. However, there is evidence of the existence of ''Phragmites'' as a native plant in North America long before European colonization of the continent . It is now known that the North American native forms of ''P. a.'' subsp. ''americanus'' are markedly less vigorous than European forms. The recent marked expansion of ''Phragmites'' in North America may be due to the more vigorous, but similar-looking European subsp. ''australis''.
''Phragmites australis'' subsp. ''australis'' is causing serious problems for many other North American hydrophyte wetland plants, including the native ''Phragmites australis'' subsp. ''americanus''. Gallic acid released by Phragmites is degraded by ultraviolet light to produce mesoxalic acid, effectively hitting susceptible plants and seedlings with two harmful toxins....hieroglyph snipped... Phragmites are so difficult to control that one of the most effective methods of eradicating the plant is to burn it over 2-3 seasons. The roots grow so deep and strong that one burn is not enough.
Habitat▲ Back to top''Phragmites australis'', Common reed, commonly forms extensive stands , which may be as much as 1 square kilometre or more in extent. Where conditions are suitable it can spread at 5 metres 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 1 metre or so deep, or even as a floating mat. The erect stems grow to 2–6 metres tall, with the tallest plants growing in areas with hot summers and fertile growing conditions.
The leaves are long for a grass, 20–50 centimetres and 2–3 centimetres broad. The flowers are produced in late summer in a dense, dark purple panicle, about 20–50 cm long. Later the numerous long, narrow, sharp pointed spikelets appear greyer due to the growth of long, silky hairs.
It is a halophyte, especially common in alkaline habitats, and it also tolerates brackish water, and so is often found at the upper edges of estuaries and on other wetlands which are occasionally inundated by the sea.
Common reed is suppressed where it is grazed regularly by livestock. Under these conditions it either grows as small shoots within the grassland sward, or it disappears altogether.
In Europe, common reed is rarely invasive, except in damp grasslands where traditional grazing has been abandoned.
Reproduction▲ Back to topReed is used in many areas for thatching roofs. In the British Isles, common reed used for this purpose is known as ''Norfolk reed'' or ''water reed''. However "wheat reed" and "Devon reed", also used for thatching, are not in fact reed, but long-stemmed wheat straw.
Food▲ Back to topNumerous parts of Phragmites can be prepared for consumption. For example, the young stems "while still green and fleshy, can be dried and pounded into a fine powder, which when moistened is roasted [sic] like marshmallows." Also, the wheat-like seeds on the apex of the stems "can be ground into flour or made into gruel." Rootstocks are used similarly.
Uses▲ Back to topSome other uses for ''Phragmites australis'' and other reeds in various cultures include baskets, mats, pen tips, and a rough form of paper....hieroglyph snipped... Additionally, the reeds are used as nesting tubes by individuals keeping solitary bees such as Mason Bees.
In the Philippines, ''Phragmites'' is known by the local name "tambo". Reed stands flower in December, and the blooms are harvested and bundled into brooms called "walis". Hence the common name of household brooms is "walis tambo".
In Australian Aboriginal cultures, reeds were used to make weapons like spears for hunting game.
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