Finke Gorge National Park

FloraCommon Reed Ghost Gum MacDonnell Ranges Cycad Narrow-leaved Cumbungi Native Fig Orange Spade Flower Red Cabbage Palm Soft Spinifex White Indigo

Found in many parts of the world, Phragmites australis (known as the Common Reed), is found across Australia including Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and across the Northern Territory. Also naturalised in the coastal districts of south-western Western Australia where it is considered an environmental weed.

Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park
Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park

A broadly distributed wetland grass that can grow up to 6 metres in height, the reed can form extensive stands (known as reed beds).

Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park
Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park

The leaves can grow to 18–60 cm in length and between 1–6 cm in width. The flowers usually appear in late summer in a dense, rusty red to dark purple panicle, about 15–40 cm long. As the flower ages, the long, sharp pointed spikelets appear cream to grey with the growth of long, silky hairs, that help disperse the seeds.

A helophyte (aquatic plant), that is common in alkaline habitats, and also tolerates brackish water.

Indigenous Australians have used the leaves for twisting into rope, the stems as spear shafts and the roots as food.2

Common name
Common reed, common reedgrass, common phragmites reed, bamboo reed, cane grass, canegrass, native reed, phragmites, ditch reed, giant reed, reed grass, giant reedgrass.

Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park
Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park

Many thanks to Meg Mooney for ID of this species, Admin Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club, Facebook group.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Monocots
  • Clade: Commelinids
  • Order: Poales
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Genus: Phragmites
  • Species: P. australis
  • Binomial name: Phragmites australis

Footnote & References

  1. Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club, Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1379683398719247
  2. Common Reed, Victorian Resources Online, Agriculture Victoria, http://vro.agriculture.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/sip_common_reed
  3. Phragmites australis, Weeds of Australia, https://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/phragmites_australis.htm

Finke Gorge National ParkCamping & Picnic Area Boggy Hole Palm Valley Fauna Flora

FloraCommon Reed Ghost Gum MacDonnell Ranges Cycad Narrow-leaved Cumbungi Native Fig Orange Spade Flower Red Cabbage Palm Soft Spinifex White Indigo

Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park
Phragmites australis (Common reed), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park