Phragmites, Common Reed

(Phragmites australis)


Phragmites have round, hollow stems with a seed head at the end of the stem.


Phragmites, or the Common Reed, is a tall perennial grass with hollow stems that can grow up to 13 feet tall. It has stiff, wide, green leaves and purple flowers that bloom in the summer. The fruit of phragmites is gray. This plant forms dense stands that can out-compete other native plants in ditches, marshes, and the edges of ponds.

Phragmites can reproduce by seed, although the germination rate is low. Most often, the rhizomes (underground stems that can produce new shoots) spread 17-34 feet and grow all along the way. These plants are so resilient in wet habitats that they often come back with more life if they are cut or burned. Treatment is most effective when the plants are mature, just before they are getting ready to put their energies into the root system for the winter.


Phragmites are common throughout the United States.