BACKGROUND: Native to Eurasia, giant reed is a weed in waterways and wetlands, disturbed sites, and garden edges. Its aggressive habit allows it to displace native riparian vegetation. It can also be a fire hazard. It is sold as an ornamental and farmed for its canes.
OTHER COMMON NAMES: Giant cane
DESCRIPTION: A perennial, creeping rhizomatous grass with hollow stems that grows 6-30 feet tall. The plant can regenerate easily from rhizome fragments. Rough-edged leaves grow up to 1-2 feet in length. Tightly packed cream to purplish-brown flowers form plumes that occur from early summer to early fall. Commonly mistaken for the related grass, phragmites, flower-bearing giant reed stems are hairless, whereas those of phragmites have silky hairs.
CONTROL: Do not buy giant reed at nurseries. Mowing and tilling encourage new growth and should be avoided. Chemical control can be effective.