Common Reed

Phragmites australisA perennial 170-400 cm tall, it has a long and thick rootstalk. The hollow stem can be up to two centimeters across. After blossoming, the straight stem becomes almost ligneous. The coarse and elongated leaves of the reed are grayish green. The inflorescence is a big panicle – up to 30 cm long – of many smaller violet spikes 6-15 mm long. This reed is wind-pollinated.

It is widespread and common along shores of rivers, lakes, ponds, and in swamps and wet meadows. It always forms vast beds. Its long rootstalks are constantly growing and branching, claiming more space. In the strong gusts of wind, the reed stems may bend as low as to touch water, but they almost never break.

Reed beds are of environmental importance: settling in bogs and swamps, the reed makes them dryer with time – the vast array of leaves and stems evaporates a lot of water, pumping it out from the damp soil. It flowers in July-August.

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