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Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Grasses Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

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.

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

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. At the base of each leaf, Common Reed has an open sheath (the base of the leaf does not wrap all the way around the stem), and there is no collar (wide spot at the base of the leaf).

Flowers: Blooms July through November. Inflorescence panicle-like, to 2-feet long, plume-like, oblong.

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

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.

Distribution: Worldwide.

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.

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Each leaves is less than 1.5 feet long
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Leaf blade 1-5 cm wide
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Open sheath and no collar
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Leaves peal easily from the stem because the sheath is open
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Dried flowerhead
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Spreading across a marsh
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Spreading across a marsh
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Spreading across a marsh

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 141118

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