Photo courtesy Benton Soil and Water Conservation
Giant Reed is an introduced herbaceous perennial
in the Grass family (Poaceae). It is native to tropical and subtropical
areas of the Old World, including the Tigris and Euphrates River
valleys in Iraq. It Alabama it has been planted as a windbreak,
as an ornamental, and for erosion control. It has persisted or
escaped to roadsides, fields, vacant lots, and along streams.
Giant Reed is a perennial from thick rhizomes. The plant forms
large clumps, excluding most other vegetation. Stems are from
three to thirty feet in height, and are hollow.
The leaves are alternate, linear in outline, glabrous,
with minutely serrate margins; distinct light tan colored wedge
at the base of each blade.
The flowers are produced in large, dense panicles at the
tops of the stems. The panicles are at first tinged with purple
and become tan as they mature
Fruit is a grain.
Giant Reed is one of the species referred to as reeds
in the Bible. It has been used for thousands of years to construct
houses, boats, screens, mats, animal pens, fish traps, and to
make woodwind instruments, walking stinks, fishing poles, and
arrows. The Marsh Arab culture of the Tigris and Euphrates river
deltas depended heavily on this species.