Giant Reed
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Giant Reed
P Native Photo: P.S. Sivaprasad
Common name: Giant Reed, Spanish cane, Colorado river reed, wild cane • Hindi: Baranal, baru, Doka, Nal, naldura • Kannada: baalada kaddi, bilee laalada kaddi, hulagilu hullu • Malayalam: Oodappullu • Manipuri: ꯌꯦꯡꯗꯧ Yengdou • Marathi: Nal • Nepali: थुलो नरकट Thulo narkat • Sanskrit: dhamana, nala, potagala • Tamil: caravanam, koraikkuccu, korukachi • Telugu: adavikikasa-gaddi, adavikikkasagadi, kaki veduru • Mizo: Pum-phir
Botanical name: Arundo donax    Family: Poaceae (Grass family)
Synonyms: Donax arundinaceus, Donax sativa, Arundo bengalensis

Giant Reed generally grows up to 6 m, in ideal conditions it can exceed 10 m, with hollow stems 2-3 cm in diameter. Leaves are alternate, 30-60 cm long and 2-6 cm wide with a tapered tip, grey-green, and have a hairy cluster at the base. Overall, it resembles an outsize common reed (Phragmites australis) or a bamboo. Giant Reed flowers in late summer, bearing upright, feathery plumes 40-60 cm long, that are usually seedless or with seeds that are rarely fertile. Instead, it mostly reproduces vegetatively, by underground rhizomes. The rhizomes are tough and fibrous and form knotty, spreading mats that penetrate deep into the soil up to 1 m deep. Giant Reed is found widely, from the Mediterranean region eastwards to North Africa, India, Pakistan. It is also found in the Himalayas, up to altitudes of 2100-2440 m.

Identification credit: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in Palakkad, Kerala.

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