Arundo donax

Giant reed

Nonnative to Florida Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: India

Giant reed was introduced into the United States in the early 1800s for ornamental purposes.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Poaceae
  • Habit: large grass (to 20 ft. tall), with thick, hard rhizomes, stems are cane-like, tall, erect or leaning
  • Leaves: leaf blades are numerous, stiff, to 3 ft. long, to 2 in. wide, smooth, rounded at base, tapering to a long point; sheaths smooth; ligules large, papery, small hairy margin
  • Flowers: inflorescence a dense erect loose spike, to 2 ft. long, feathery, whitish to brown
  • Fruit: spikelets stalked, solitary; flowers with long silky hairs (awns) 
  • Seeds: may not produce seeds outside of native range
  • Distribution in Florida: statewide


Giant reed invades wetlands such as ditches, stream banks and lake shores. It competes for water, nutrients and sun, suppresses and excludes native vegetation which degrades wildlife habitat, increases fire risks and interferes with flood control.  

Giant reed is not recommended by UF/IFAS. It has been listed as no use with high invasive potential in all parts of Florida by the UF/IFAS Assessment

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Avoid planting giant reed and use other native grasses in its place. Switch cane (Arundinaria gigantea), bushy broom grass (Andropogon glomeratus) and Fakahatchee grass (Tripsacum dactyloides) are suitable alternatives. 


Do not plant and remove any existing plantings and control sprouts. Bag and dispose of plants in a dumpster or burn.


Frequent repeated cutting to groundline may result in control.


There are no known biological control agents for giant reed.


Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (September or October with multiple applications to regrowth): when safety to surrounding plants is desired, a glyphosate herbicide as a 4-percent solution (1 pint per 3-gallon mix) directed at this plant and away from surrounding plants; Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix); or a combination of the two herbicides; Arsenal AC* as a 0.5-percent solution (2 ounces per 3-gallon mix) and a glyphosate herbicide as a 4-percent solution (1 pint per 3-gallon mix).

Learn more about this species

  1. Atlas of Florida Plants
  2. UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
  3. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service- Plants Database
  4. EDIS Publication- Integrated Management of Nonnative Plants in Natural Areas of Florida
  5. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
  6. View the herbarium images from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects