Arundo donax – Giant Reed

Arundo donax - Giant Reed, Elephant Grass

Arundo donax - Giant Reed, Elephant Grass

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Arundo donax

Common Names: Giant Reed, Elephant Grass

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Shrub, Subshrub, Graminoid

Arizona Native Status: Introduced

Habitat: Riparian. It usually grows in wetlands (~ 67%-99% of the time), but it is sometimes found in non-wetlands.

Flower Color: Inconspicuous

Flowering Season: Summer

Height: To 20 feet (6 m) tall

Description: The green, plume-like inflorescence has pale brownish spikelets and is up to 2 feet (61 cm) long. The leaf blades are green, up to 3 feet (0.9 m) long, and 2.4 inches (6 cm) wide. When dry, the stems are hard and cane-like, giving this large grass a bamboo-like appearance.

This introduced, invasive weed grows near water here and is very difficult to eradicate in areas where it has become established.

Special Characteristics

Allergenic – The pollen is moderately allergenic.

Edible – The rhizomes are edible raw, cooked, or dried, but the plants do contain the indole alkaloid Gramine, so don't consume in large amounts and don't feed to dogs because they are very sensitive to this alkaloid.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae – Grass family
Genus: Arundo L. – giant reed
Species: Arundo donax L. – giant reed

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map