The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Arundo donax
Arundo donax

Copyright Info
Arundo donax L.

Common name: giantreed

Synonyms and Other Names: Giant cane, bamboo reed, giant reed grass, Arundo grass, donax cane, bamboo cane (Oakins 2001)

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

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)

Size: Up to 6-10m in height (Lambert et al 2010; Oakins 2001; Rieger and Kreager, 1989)

Native Range: Origin is unknown (Pilu et al 2012). This species is believed to be from the Mediterranean (Oakins 2001), but it is also thought that it was introduced to the Mediterranean from Asia or India (Bell 1997; Oakins 2001).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Arundo donax are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ201820181Little Colorado Headwaters
CA201320182Salinas; San Francisco Coastal South
DC193819381Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan
MD193119592Patuxent; Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva
NV201420174Havasu-Mohave Lakes; Las Vegas Wash; Meadow Valley Wash; Upper Amargosa
NC193319331Upper Yadkin
TX1852202112Austin-Travis Lakes; Black Hills-Fresno; Bois D'arc-Island; Elm-Sycamore; Lampasas; Lower Colorado-Cummins; Lower San Antonio; Medina; Middle Canadian-Spring; Middle Guadalupe; San Ambrosia-Santa Isabel; Upper Neches

Table last updated 4/12/2024

† 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).

Status: Established through much of the western United States.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...

EcologicalEconomicHuman HealthOther

The invasion success of Arundo donax is due largely to its rhizomal spread, rapid growth, and tolerance of a variety of flood and drought conditions as well as climatic conditions (Quinn and Holt, 2008). This species creates dense, monoculture stands, outcompeting native species for space and resources (Quinn and Holt, 2008). This species has had many human uses, including use for building instruments, building shelter, for fuel, and for medicinal purposes (Perdue 1958; Oakins 2001). It has also been used to control erosion in irrigation canals (Oakins 2001). This species reduces arthropod abundance and diversity; it is thought that the species may impact trophic cascades that extend to migratory songbirds (Herrera and Dudley, 2003).

Remarks: This species is included in the list of the world’s 100 worst alien species (Lowe et 2000).

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.

Author: Morningstar, C.R.

Revision Date: 9/9/2021

Citation Information:
Morningstar, C.R., 2024, Arundo donax L.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=3595, Revision Date: 9/9/2021, Access Date: 4/12/2024

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.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/12/2024].

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