Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin.

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Synonyms: Arundo australis Cav.
Arundo phragmites L.
Arundo vulgaris Lam.
Phragmites communis Trin.
Phragmites vulgaris (Lam.) Crép.
Trichoon phragmites (L.) Rendle
Common names: Common reed (English) Gewone riet (Afrikaans)
A stout perennial growing with a system of long creeping scaly rhizomes. Culms (0·3)0·6-6 m. tall or more, up to 1·5 cm. in diam., many-noded, slender to stout, usually erect but sometimes floating, simple, terete, glabrous. Leaf-sheaths imbricate at first, later shorter than the internodes, striate, tight, smooth, glabrous. Ligule c. 1 mm. long. Leaf-laminae 4-100 x 0·3-5 cm., linear to very narrowly lanceolate, slightly auriculate at the base, tapering to a long filiform flexuous point, usually expanded, rather firm, glabrous but sometime pilose near the base, smooth on both surfaces but sometimes scaberulous along the edges. Panicle 10-50 x 3·5-17 cm., silvery-purplish or brownish, oblong to ovate-oblong in outline, erect or nodding later on, rather dense; rhachis terete in the lower, angular in the upper part, barbate at the nodes; branches fascicled, repeatedly divided, angular, some of them bearing spikelets almost to their base. Pedicels 1-8 mm. long, filiform. Spikelets 10-18 mm. long, usually brown. Glumes unequal; the inferior (2)3-4·5 (6) mm. long, ovate-oblong; the superior 5-9 mm. long, lanceolate-oblong to narrowly oblong. Florets usually 4-5 (sometimes 3, 6 or 10). Inferior lemma 9-13 mm. long, linear-lanceolate to linear-oblong, acute to acuminate, with the margins involute; fertile lemmas 9-12 mm. long, narrowly lanceolate, acuminate; callus 1-1·5 mm. long, with the hairs 6-10 mm. long. Paleas 1·5-4 mm. long. Anthers c. 4 mm. long. Caryopsis c. 1·5 mm. long.
Derivation of specific name: australis: southern
Habitat: In dense colonies along rivers, in swamps, flood plains, flats, vleis and at the edges of pools or dams, often partly submerged
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Temperate regions of both hemispheres in the Old World and the New. Recorded from all temperate and subtropical regions of Africa and South Africa
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 29.

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 464. (Includes a picture).

Launert, E. (1971). Poaceae Flora Zambesiaca 10(1) Pages 91 - 92.

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 108.

Roodt, V. (2015). Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the surrounding savanna Struik Nature, South Africa Pages 166 - 167. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 142.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 28.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 191.

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 86.

Other sources of information about Phragmites australis:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Phragmites australis
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Phragmites australis
Flora of Mozambique: Phragmites australis
Flora of Zambia: Phragmites australis
Flora of Zimbabwe: Phragmites australis

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Phragmites australis
African Plant Database: Phragmites australis
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Phragmites australis
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Phragmites australis
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Phragmites australis
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Phragmites australis
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Phragmites australis
JSTOR Plant Science: Phragmites australis
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Phragmites australis
Plants of the World Online: Phragmites australis
Tropicos: Phragmites australis
Wikipedia: Phragmites australis

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Caprivi: Species information: Phragmites australis., retrieved 25 June 2024

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