Giant reed

Giant reed

Arundo donax (Poaceae)

Common Name:

Giant reed

Scientific Name:

Arundo donax (Poaceae)

Alternative common names:

Bamboo reed; Spanish reed (English); Spaanse riet (Afrikaans)


A tall and vigorous aquatic reed growing 2-6m high spreading from horizontal rootstocks. Pale green to bluish green leaves and leaf sheaths that are persistent on the stems. Cream or brown, compact, erect, spear-shaped silky inflorescences appear at the tip all year round.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Throughout South Africa in wetlands.

How does it spread?

Horizontally from rootstocks.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous species. It forms very dense stands on riverbanks and in riverbeds which results in the narrowing of water channels, increased siltation and the exclusion of smaller and less vigorous riverbank species.

What does it look like?

General description: A tall and robust reed reaching a height of 2-6m with pale green long and slender leaves.
Leaves: Pale green to bluish green leaves long and slender in profile and evenly spaced along the stem.
Flowers: Cream or brown, compact, erect, spear-shaped silky inflorescences appear throughout the year.
Fruit/seeds: None.

Does the plant have any uses?

Used as an ornamental for screening, ceilings and musical instruments such as wind chimes.

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