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Phragmites australis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual to woody perennial herb; roots generally fibrous. Stem: generally round, hollow; nodes swollen, solid. Leaf: alternate, 2-ranked, generally linear, parallel-veined; sheath generally open; ligule membranous or hairy, at blade base. Inflorescence: various (of generally many spikelets). Spikelet: glumes generally 2; florets (lemma, palea, flower) 1--many; lemma generally membranous, sometimes glume-like; palea generally +- transparent, +- enclosed by lemma. Flower: generally bisexual, minute; perianth vestigial; stamens generally 3; stigmas generally 2, generally plumose. Fruit: grain, sometimes achene- or utricle-like.
Genera In Family: 650--900 genera; +- 10550 species: worldwide; greatest economic importance of any family (wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, forage crops, ornamental, weeds; thatching, weaving, building materials). Note: Generally wind-pollinated. Achnatherum, Ampelodesmos, Hesperostipa, Nassella, Piptatherum, Piptochaetium, Ptilagrostis moved to Stipa; Elytrigia, Leymus, Pascopyrum, Pseudoroegneria, Taeniatherum to Elymus; Hierochloe to Anthoxanthum; Lolium, Vulpia to Festuca; Lycurus to Muhlenbergia; Monanthochloe to Distichlis; Pleuraphis to Hilaria; Rhynchelytrum to Melinis. The following taxa (in genera not included here), recorded in California from historical collections or reported in literature, are extirpated, lacking vouchers, or not considered naturalized: Acrachne racemosa (Roth) Ohwi, Allolepis texana (Vasey) Soderstr. & H.F. Decker, Amphibromus nervosus (Hook. f.) Baill., Axonopus affinis Chase, Axonopus fissifolius (Raddi) Kuhlm., Coix lacryma-jobi L., Cutandia memphitica (Spreng.) K. Richt., Dinebra retroflexa (Vahl) Panz., Eremochloa ciliaris (L.) Merr., Eustachys distichophylla (Lag.) Nees, Gaudinia fragilis (L.) P. Beauv., Miscanthus sinensis Andersson, Neyraudia arundinacea (L.) Henrard, Phyllostachys aurea Rivière & C. Rivière, Phyllostachys bambusoides Siebold & Zuccarini, Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) Clayton, Schedonnardus paniculatus (Nutt.) Branner & Coville, Schizachyrium cirratum (Hack.) Wooton & Standl., Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash, Themeda quadrivalvis (L.) Kuntze, Thysanolaena latifolia (Hornem.) Honda, Tribolium obliterum (Hemsl.) Renvoize, Zea mays L., Zizania palustris L. var. interior (Fassett) Dore, Zoysia japonica Steud. Paspalum pubiflorum E. Fourn., Paspalum quadrifarium Lam., are now reported for southern California (J Bot Res Inst Texas 4:761--770). See Glossary p. 30 for illustrations of general family characteristics.
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr., except as noted
Scientific Editor: James P. Smith, Jr., J. Travis Columbus, Dieter H. Wilken.
Genus: PhragmitesView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb with thick rhizomes or stolons, forming dense stands. Stem: tall, erect. Leaf: cauline; sheaths open; ligule short, membranous, truncate or hairy; blade flat or folded, generally deciduous. Inflorescence: panicle-like. Spikelet: glumes unequal, lower < upper, 1--3-veined; axis long-soft-hairy; florets 1--10, breaking above glumes and between florets; lower florets sterile or staminate, upper bisexual; lemma lanceolate, glabrous, generally 3--5-veined; palea << lemma; stamens generally 2--3.
Species In Genus: 1 sp.: cosmopolitan. Etymology: (Greek: fence, a reference to its growth form)
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr. & Kelly W. Allred

Phragmites australis (Cav.) Steud.
Stem: 2--4 m. Leaf: blade generally 20--45 cm, 1--5 cm wide, margins scabrous, generally breaking at collar. Inflorescence: 15--50 cm, plume-like, oblong to obovoid, +- purple to +- white. Spikelet: 10--16 mm; lower glume 3--7 mm, upper glume 5--10 mm; florets 2--10. Chromosomes: 2n=36,44,46,48,49--52, 54,72,84,96.
Ecology: Pond and lake margins, sloughs, marshes; Elevation: generally < 1600 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA; Distribution Outside California: worldwide. Flowering Time: Jul--Nov Note: 3 different genetic lineages may occur in California: Phragmites australis subsp. americanus Saltonstall et al. (native), Phragmites australis subsp. berlandieri (E. Fourn.) Saltonstall & Hauber (native), and a 3rd naturalized entity whose taxonomic identity has yet to be determined [Saltonstall & Hauber 2007 J Bot Res Inst Texas 1:385--388].
Synonyms: Phragmites australis var. berlandieri (E. Fourn.) C.F. Reed; Phragmites berlandieri E. Fourn.; Phragmites communis Trin.; Phragmites communis var. berlandieri (E. Fourn.) Fernald
Unabridged Note: Perhaps most widely distributed of all seed pls. Recent work suggests that 3 different genetic lineages are present in California: Phragmites australis subsp. americanus Saltonstall et al. (native), Phragmites australis subsp. berlandieri (E. Fourn.) Saltonstall & Hauber (native), and a 3rd naturalized entity whose taxonomic identity has yet to be determined.
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr. & Kelly W. Allred
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botanical illustration including Phragmites australis


Citation for this treatment: James P. Smith, Jr. & Kelly W. Allred 2017. Phragmites australis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 24, 2017.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2017. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 24, 2017.

Geographic subdivisions for Phragmites australis:
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.