Phragmites australis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Poales Poaceae

Scientific Name: Phragmites australis (Cav.) Steud.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Common Reed
French Phragmite commun, Roseau
Arundo australis Cav.
Arundo phragmites L.
Phragmites breviglumis Pomel
Phragmites communis Trin
Phragmites vulgaris (Lam.) Crép.
Taxonomic Notes:

This has been treated at times as a monospecific genus or a number of different species within the genus. It is extremely variable and many subordinate taxa have been described (e.g. TROPICOS lists 199 synonyms for this name). TROPICOS lists this taxon as P. communis Trin. by which name it was formerly known in the UK.

There is a degree of uncertainty over the taxonomic status of this species, some authorities consider that there is only species worldwide (e.g. T.A. Cope pers. comm.), however, a number of taxa are generally recognized (e.g. The Plant List). As a consequence of this uncertainty, it is very difficult to establish the true distribution of the various taxa. This assessment uses a combination of the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families and the Invasive Species Compendium (CABI International) to derive a country list, however, it is not certain that this list is comprehensive.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2012-05-16
Assessor(s): Lansdown, R.V.
Reviewer(s): García, N. & Tognelli, M.
Contributor(s): Patzelt, A., Knees, S.G., Neale, S. & Williams, L.

This species is extremely widespread and abundant almost throughout the world, it is capable of exploiting anthropogenic habitats and is not known to face any significant threats; it is therefore classed as Least Concern.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species has a sub-cosmopolitan distribution; it occurs from north-west Europe south through central and southern Europe to North Africa and south through Southern Africa to the Cape; it also occurs east through Russia and the Middle East to the Far East and south through South-east Asia to Australia, as well as throughout much of Canada south throughout the United States and Mexico as far south as Chile and Argentina. It has apparently been introduced to New Zealand, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Hawaii (The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew 2012). Phragmites australis may be present on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, but these records are uncertain and require further investigation to confirm. 

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Åland Islands; Albania; Algeria; American Samoa; Andorra; Angola; Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Armenia; Aruba; Australia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahamas; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belarus; Belgium; Belize; Benin; Bermuda; Bhutan; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Bosnia and Herzegovina; Botswana; Bouvet Island; Brazil; British Indian Ocean Territory; Brunei Darussalam; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Canada; Cape Verde; Cayman Islands; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Colombia; Comoros; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cuba; Curaçao; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Disputed Territory; Djibouti; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); Faroe Islands; Fiji; Finland; France; French Guiana; French Polynesia; French Southern Territories; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Greenland; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guam; Guatemala; Guernsey; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Heard Island and McDonald Islands; Holy See (Vatican City State); Honduras; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Isle of Man; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Jersey; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kiribati; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Latvia; Lebanon; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macao; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Mali; Malta; Marshall Islands; Martinique; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mayotte; Mexico; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Moldova; Monaco; Mongolia; Montenegro; Montserrat; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nauru; Nepal; Netherlands; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Pitcairn; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Qatar; Réunion; Romania; Russian Federation; Rwanda; Saint Barthélemy; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Samoa; San Marino; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Slovakia; Slovenia; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tokelau; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Turks and Caicos Islands; Tuvalu; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States (Hawaiian Is. - Introduced); United States Minor Outlying Islands; Uruguay; Uzbekistan; Vanuatu; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Viet Nam; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.; Wallis and Futuna; Western Sahara; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Cook Islands; New Caledonia; New Zealand
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


This species is extremely widespread and abundant, locally forming massive stands. Whilst there is no direct global information on population trends and there have been some losses through drainage and conversion of wetlands to other habitats, there is no evidence that this species is declining overall.

Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This species will occur in most wetland habitats, from the margins of small ditches through river margins, ponds, lakes and reservoirs to vast expanses of reedmarsh, often in shallow water or growing out over deeper water. It can tolerate brackish conditions and variation in nutrient status from oligotrophic to highly eutrophic. It is capable of persisting for many years in sites which have ceased to be wetlands, e.g. where the source of water to a wetland has been diverted, but eventually dies out. It is capable of colonizing and becoming a serious weed in some types of irrigated agriculture.

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The roots, stems, seed and leaves of this species have been used for human consumption. Due to its high biomass it can be used as a source of fuel converting the plant into alcohol. Another use is for thatching roofs or for other structures such as dwellings, lattices or fences. It is also source of fibre and used for its medicinal properties. It has been used as an antiasthmatic, antidote, antiemetic, antitussive, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, lithontripic, refrigerant, sialagogue, stomachic, styptic, etc. This species is widely managed and harvested for manufacture of wind breaks, thatch and handcrafted objects. It is also used for water treatment of water from sewage treatment systems and hard surface run-off.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

There are no known significant past, ongoing or future threats to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

This species occurs in vast populations in many protected areas and in many countries is protected mainly as habitats for birds.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: This amended assessment has been published as the records of this species from São Tomé and Príncipe are currently uncertain, and it needs to be confirmed whether the species is extant here, and is native.

Citation: Lansdown, R.V. 2017. Phragmites australis (amended version of 2015 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T164494A121712286. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided