General: Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is the tallest (10-12 feet) native species of grass in
the Mojave Desert, looking more like bamboo than a typical grass.
Common Reed is an uncommon component of wet vegetation associations (wetlands, along washes and rivers) in the Lower Sonoran
(Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran
(Mojave Desert Scrub and
Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zones.
Family: Grass (Poaceae).
Other Names: Phragmites, Phragmites communis.
Plant Form: Tall, perennial grass forming dense stands.
Height: 10-12 feet.
Stems: Stem tall, erect, round, hollow.
Leaves: Alternate, 2-ranked, linear; blades 10-20 inches long, 1/2 to 2 inches wide.
Flowers: Blooms July through November. Inflorescence panicle-like, to 2-feet long, plume-like, oblong.
Seeds: Tiny, achene-like grain (like a tiny sunflower seed).
Habitat: Pond edges, springs, stream edges, riverbanks, and other wet areas.
Elevation: To about 5,500 feet.
Comments: Common Reed is considered a noxious weed in some places, and currently there is debate among desert ecologists
as to whether this species should be considered a native plant or an alien, invasive plant. It certainly is an invasive species that
grows in dense, monotypic stands and crowds out other wetland species.