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Common Reed

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Common Reed photos

Scientific Name:Phragmites australis (syn. Phragmites communis)
Common Reed clump
Common Reed clump on saline flat
Photo: A J Brown

Other Common Name:



Native to Australia but also native to many parts of the world (cosmopolitan). All Australian States but confined to one location near Albany in SW Western Australia. Not found in New Zealand or Polynesia.

Plant Description:

perennial grass with thick, fleshy rhizomes, leafy stems to 3 m high and about 2 cm wide. Leaves are smooth and flat or loosely inrolled, to 80 cm long and 4 cm wide.

Flower-heads are large ovoid, dense panicles from 10-40 cm long. Spikelets are 3-8 flowered and 10-18 cm long with a tuft of fine silky hairs at the base of the upper flowers in each spikelet.


Common on the edges of lakes, swamps and watercourses and on poorly drained flats. Tolerant of high salinity, waterlogging and acid sulphate soils.

RegionSalinity ClassWaterlogging Class
Mallee, Loddon Murray, Central & Northern, Wimmera, Western, GippslandS0, S1, S2, S3W2, W3


Native Americans had some 75 uses for Common Reed, including arrow shafts, pipes, whistles and matting. Indigenous Australians used the leaves for twisting into rope, the stems as spear shafts and the roots as food. Common Reed is still regularly harvested in southern Europe and parts of Asia for thatching, matting, brooms and other uses.

Common Reed Photos

Common Reed flowerhead
Flower-head of Common Reed
Photo: A J Brown
Common Reed freshwater
Common Reed stand on edge of saline morass
Photo: A J Brown

Common Reed saline morass
Common Reed stand on coastal saltmarsh
Photo: A J Brown

Common Reed salt encrustrations
Salt encrustations on exposed root crown of Common Reed
Photo: A J Brown

Common Reed leaves and stems
Leaves and stems of Common Reed
Photo: A J Brown

Common Reed saltmarsh
Common Reed stand in freshwater swamp
Photo: A J Brown

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