Also known as:
Common Reed
Temperate zones in both hemispheres

General description

Perennial grass to 3 m tall on water margins. Bamboo-like stems. Long, wide, flat leaves that taper to a point, bluish-green (60 cm x 3 cm). Large, fluffy, purplish-brown flower heads (40 cm long). Seed grain covered in silky hairs.

Emergent aquatic and marginal.

Spreads by water. Rhizome fragments or deliberate plantings. Flowering and seed production are highly variable in NZ.

Reproduces asexually by rhizomes and, in its native range, forms dense patches on the edges of waterways.

Site management

Recommended approaches

Subject to a nationwide eradication project. Contact MAF BNZ or the ARC Biosecurity team on 09 366 2000 or

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

giant reed
Arundo donax

Giant reed is taller with arching stems.

Phyllostachys species

Bamboos have stalked leaves rather than leaves that attach directly to the stalk.

RPMS status

Surveillance - Whole Region
National Pest Plant Accord species - nationwide
phragmites - Main species image