Arundo donax L.  
Family: Poaceae
giant reed,  more...
[Arundo donax var. versicolor (P. Mill.) Stokes,  more]
Arundo donax image
Max Licher  

Culms (2)3-10 m, in large tussocks or hedges. Leaves distichous; ligules 0.4-1 mm; blades 30-100 cm long, 2-7(9) cm wide, with a wedge-shaped, light to dark brown area at the base. Panicles 30-60 cm long, to 30 cm wide. Spikelets 10-15 mm, with 2-4 florets. Glumes subequal, as long as the spikelets, thin, brownish or purplish, 3-veined, long-acuminate; lemmas 8-12 mm, 3-5-veined, pilose, hairs 4-9 mm, apices bifid, midvein ending into a delicate awn; paleas 3-5 mm, pilose at the base; anthers 2-3 mm. Caryopses 3-4 mm, oblong, light brown. 2n = 24, 100, 110.

Within the Flora region, Arundo donax grows in the southern half of the contiguous United States, being found along ditches, culverts, and roadsides where water accumulates. It has been used extensively as a windbreak, and planted for erosion control on wet dunes. It is also grown for the ornamental value of its tall, leafy culms and large panicles, but its tendency to spread is sometimes a disadvantage. Cultivars with striped or unusually wide leaves, e.g., 'Variegata' and 'Macrophylla', are of horticultural interest but do not merit taxonomic recognition.

Arundo donax has been used for thousands of years in making musical instruments, the stems being used for pipes and the tough inner rind for reeds in a wide variety of woodwind instruments. It is one of the species referred to as reed in the Bible. It is still used in many parts of the world for house construction, lattice-work, mats, screens, stakes, walking sticks, and fishing poles.

Plant: Giant reed-like grass to 5 m tall.
Dr. David Bogler, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database
Perennials, Aquatic, leaves e mergent, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Rhizomes present, Rhizome short and compact, stems close, Rhizome elongate, creeping, stems distant, Stems woody, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stems branching above base or distally at nodes, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence 2-6 m tall, Stems with inflorescence 6 m or taller, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades disarticulating from sheath, deciduous at ligule, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades lanceolate, Leaf blade auriculate, Leaf blades 2 or more cm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Leaf blades scabrous, roughened, or wrinkled, Ligule present, Ligule an unfringed eciliate membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence a contracted panicle, narrowly paniculate, branches appressed or ascending, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Spikelets conspicuously hairy , Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subequal, Glumes equal to or longer than adjacent lemma, Glumes keeled or winged, Glumes 3 nerved, Glumes 4-7 nerved, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 3 nerv ed, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma body or surface hairy, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma awnless, Lemma distinctly awned, more than 2-3 mm, Lemma with 1 awn, Lemma straight, Callus or base of lemma evidently hairy, Callus hairs equal to lemma, Callus hairs longer than lemma, Palea present, well developed, Palea membranous, hyaline, Palea shorter than lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Palea keels winged, scabrous, or ciliate, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - c
Arundo donax image
Arundo donax image
Max Licher  
Arundo donax image
Liz Makings  
Arundo donax image
Max Licher  
More Images        Web Links       View Parent Taxon       Close window