Arundo donax L. ~ Giant Reed

Arundo donax L. 

Common Name:  Giant Reed
Arabic Name: لوف
Family: Gramineae

A very wide-ranging member of the grass family, Arundo donax stretches from the Atlantic coast of North Africa, through the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian Peninsula, to Southern Asia. It is commonly associated with waterways and riparian ecosystems in arid, semi-arid and subtropical climates.

A. donax is an incredibly vigorous plant which can reach heights of 6-10 m in ideal conditions. It is considered to be among the fastest growing terrestrial plants in the world, with up to 10 cm of growth per day. 

Spreading by underground rhizomes is the primary method of multiplication, as almost all seeds produced are sterile. These rhizomes spread to colonize large areas, and can break off to float downstream and colonize new places. A piece only 5 cm in length is able to sprout new growth, and can remain viable for up to 3 months in sea water. This has led to it becoming an invasive along coastal areas in California and Australia.

A. donax is considered to have many cultural uses, and is widely planted for harvesting and for its ornamental value in gardens.

The canes of the plant can be used to make small structures. It is the principle source of reeds used in saxophones, bagpipes and other woodwind instruments.
And, in the past, its leaves were used to wrap the dead of the ancient Egyptians.

Fast growth, ability to thrive in many environments, and a very high combustion rate, give A. donax much promise as a crop for energy products. However, due to high levels of silica and other alkaloids, which make it unpalatable, it is not used as a forage crop.

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