Herbs and Other Plant Species of the World's Boreal Forests

World Boreal Trees

Terminology | Pictorial

Phragmites communis
Common Reed
Poaceae (Grass Family)

A tall, thick-stemmed grass, growing to a height of 1.5 - 4.5 m.


Common Reed Distinguishing Features - Leaves: blue-green, blades >50 cm long, with rough margins; sheathed stem at base. Flowers: tiny, without petals; 3 stamens; 2 styles; enclosed in scales 6 mmlong; scales grouped into spikelets with a tuft of silky hairs; spikelets, clustered >30 cm long; purplish-gray as they mature; flowering late summer. Fruit: rarely produces seed but spreads by underground rhizomes.


Native to both Eurasia and North America; fresh and brackish marshes and ditches; more abundant along the coast.


The plume in full flower makes an attractive addition to dried bouquets. The hollow stem was woven into mats by Native Peoples; leaves were used for baskets and floor mats.

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