Identification: Stems: monocotyledonous structure (Perdue, R.E. 1958); Hollow, segmented clums, 1-4cm in diameter (Oakins 2001)
Flower: panicle, large and plume-like (Bell 1997)
Roots: fiberous, grow up to 5m in depth; Rhizomes (Oakins 2001)
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: Arundo donax is a perennial hydrophyte, meaning it is an aquatic obligate. It grows up to 10m in height along the banks of rivers, lakes, and streams, and uses a large amount of water, reported as much as 2000 L per 1-meter stand (Bell 1997; Lambert et al 2010). However, this species is also drought tolerant, and is reported to grow in flood plain areas that undergo extreme drought and only occasional flooding. It grows quickly and can grow up to 5cm per day under ideal conditions (Perdue 1958). The species is sub-tropical and does not tolerate frost, nor tropical climates (Perdue 1958).
Arundo donax flowers in the late summer, and spreads vegetatively through stem and rhizome fragmentation, often moved by river movement and flood waters (Bell 1997). This species grows quickly and has been reported have rhizomal growth of as much as 6.25cm per day (Reiger and Kreager 1989).
Means of Introduction: This species was brought into California by colonists intentionally from the Mediterranean in the mid-1800s for many uses and purposes, including the mistaken belief that it would control erosion in ditches (Herrera and Dudley, 2003; Bell 1997).
Arundo donax was widely cultivated in France for the producing musical instruments. During World War I, troops in France used most of the canes of A. donax for building shelter and for fuel, which created a shortage for instrument makers; as a result, the plant was cultivated in California, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia in an attempt to replace the resource (Perdue, R.E. 1958).
References: (click for full references)
Bell GP (1997). Ecology and management of Arundo donax, and approaches to riparian habitat restoration in southern California. In: Plant Invasions: Studies from North America and Europe.
Boose AB, Holt JS (1999). Environmental effects on asexual reproduction in Arundo donax. Weed Res. 39: 117-127.
Everitt JH, Yang C, Alaniz MA, Davis MR, Nibling FL, Deloach CJ (2004). Canopy Spectra of Giant Reed and Associated Vegetation. J. Range Manage. 57: 561-569
Herrera, A.M., and T.L. Dudley. 2003. Reduction of riparian arthropod abundance and diversity as a consequence of giant reed (Arundo donax) invasion. Biological Invasions, 5(3), 167-177. Biological Invasions 5(3):167-177.
Lambert, A.M., T.L. Dudley, and K. Saltonstall. 2010. Ecology and Impacts of the Large-Statured Invasive Grasses Arundo donax and Phragmites australis in North America. Invasive Plant Science and Management 3(4):489-494.
Lowe S., Browne M., Boudjelas S.,De Poorter M. 2000. 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species: A selection from the gobal invasive species database. The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) a specialist group of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the World Conservation Union (IUCN,. www.issg.org/booklet.pdf).
Pilu, R., F.C. Badone, L. Michela. 2012. Giant reed (Arundo donax L.): A weed plant or a promising energy crop? African Journal of Biotechnology 11(38):9163-9174.
Oakins, A.J., 2001. An assessment and management protocol for Arundo donax in the Salinas Valley Watershed.
Perdue, R.E. 1958. Arundo donax - source of musical reeds and industrial cellulose. Economic Bot. 12: 368-404.
Quinn LD, Holt JS (2008). Ecological Correlates of Invasion by Arundo donax in Three Southern California Riparian Habitats. Biol. Inv. 10: 591-601.
Spencer DF, Ksander GG, Whitehand LC (2005). Spatial and Temporal Variation in RGR and Leaf Quality of a Clonal Riparian Plant: Arundo donax. Aquat. Bot. 81: 27-36.
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.