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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

63. Poaceae, the Grass Family

22. Phragmites Trin.

1. Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex. Steud. -- Common reed


Tall, stout reeds 2-4 m tall, extensively colonial from usually deep-seated, scaly rhizomes, these sometimes acting as stolons and creeping over the substrate during drawdown; culm hollow, 5-15 mm thick toward the base, the internodes often purplish. Leaves broad, 1-3 cm wide; sheaths open, mostly overlapping, the ligule white-hyaline, fibrillose, 1 mm long. Panicle plumelike, rather densely flowered, purple and turning tawny with age, 15-40 cm long, the branches ascending to curved. Spikelets several-flowered, 10-15 mm long, disarticulating above the glumes, the florets decreasing in size upward, the rachilla covered with long silky hairs, these exceeding the florets, exposed after anthesis; glumes 3-nerved (the second rarely 5-nerved), unequal, the first glume ca. 1/2 the length of the second; lemmas long-acuminate, glabrous, 3-nerved; palea much shorter than the lemma, membranous, nerved along the margins. Grain seldom produced, dark brown, ellipsoid, 1.2-1.5 mm long. Jul--Sep. Fresh to saline marshes, shores, streams, ditches and seepage areas, in wet ground or shallow water; common, often abundant; (Nearly cosmopolitan). P. communis Trin.
GIF- Species Photo/Drawing
GIF- Distribution Map

Map key

Phragmites australis (from Hitchcock 1950, as P. communis).  

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