giant reed USDA PLANTS Symbol: ARDO4
U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Grass or Grasslike Forbs/Herbs
Arundo donax L.

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Taxonomic Rank: Liliopsida: Cyperales: Poaceae
Synonym(s): elephant grass, wild cane, cana brava, carrizo, arundo
Native Range: Mediterranean region (BAIL);

Giant reed is a perennial grass that can reach up to 20 ft. (6.1 m) in height. The stem resembles a corn stalk and has long, flat leaves up to 1.5 ft. (0.5 m) long. Flowering occurs in late summer to early fall, when plants are most easily recognized because of the large, dense flower plumes that develop at the tops of the culms. The plums can grow up to 3 ft. (0.9 m) in length. Giant reed invades wetlands such as ditches, stream banks and lake shores. Giant reed can completely suppress and remove native vegetation very easily, which reduces wildlife habitat, increases fire risks and interferes with flood control. Giant reed is native to India and was introduced into the United States in the early 1800s for ornamental purposes.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Selected Images from Invasive.orgView All Images at

Plant(s); Large plants in September
Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia,
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David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia,
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Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,
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David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia,
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Bonnie Million, National Park Service,
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Feature(s); vegetatively reproducing from stem fragment.
Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California - Davis,
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Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database,
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Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,
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EDDMapS Distribution:
This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts and records obtained from USDA Plants Database. For more information, visit

State(s) Where Reported invasive.
Based on state level agency and organization lists of invasive plants from WeedUS database.

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U.S. National Parks where reported invasive:
Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Lake Mead National Park (Nevada)
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (Texas)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (Californina)

Invasive Listing Sources:
Alabama Invasive Plant Council
California Invasive Plant Council
Faith Campbell, 1998
Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council
Jackie Poole, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (personal communication)
Jil M. Swearingen, Survey of invasive plants occurring on National Park Service lands, 2000-2007
John Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Survey of TNC Preserves, 1995.
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.  2003. Invasive Plant Control in Maryland. Home and Garden Information Center, Home and Garden Mimeo HG88. 4 pp.
Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2005
South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council
Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2009