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Datasheet

Arundo donax (giant reed)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 June 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Arundo donax
  • Preferred Common Name
  • giant reed
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. donax is an aggressive species with an ability to reproduce quickly, allowing it to out-compete native plant species, and has established itself as one of the primary threats to native riparian habitats in i...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Arundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.
TitleHabit
CaptionArundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Arundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.
HabitArundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.©A.R. Pittaway
Arundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.
TitleHabit
CaptionArundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Arundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.
HabitArundo donax, or 'giant reed'; growth habit. Crete. 11 August 2011.©A.R. Pittaway
Giant reed, showing typical habit.
TitleHabit
CaptionGiant reed, showing typical habit.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Giant reed, showing typical habit.
HabitGiant reed, showing typical habit.Sheldon Navie
Leaves on young shoots.
TitleLeaves
CaptionLeaves on young shoots.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Leaves on young shoots.
LeavesLeaves on young shoots.Sheldon Navie
Stem, nodes and base of leaves.
TitleLeaves
CaptionStem, nodes and base of leaves.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Stem, nodes and base of leaves.
LeavesStem, nodes and base of leaves.Sheldon Navie
Leaves on stem.
TitleLeaves
CaptionLeaves on stem.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Leaves on stem.
LeavesLeaves on stem.Sheldon Navie
Seed head.
TitleSeed head
CaptionSeed head.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Seed head.
Seed headSeed head.Sheldon Navie
Seed head.
TitleSeed head
CaptionSeed head.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Seed head.
Seed headSeed head.Sheldon Navie
Flower spikelets.
TitleFlower spikelets
CaptionFlower spikelets.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Flower spikelets.
Flower spikeletsFlower spikelets.Sheldon Navie

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Arundo donax L.

Preferred Common Name

  • giant reed

Other Scientific Names

  • Aira bengalensis (Retz.) J.F.Gmel.
  • Amphidonax bengalensis (Retz.) Steud.
  • Amphidonax bengalensis Roxb. ex Nees
  • Arundo bambusifolia Hook.f.
  • Arundo bengalensis Retz.
  • Arundo bifaria Retz.
  • Arundo coleotricha (Hack.) Honda
  • Arundo sativa Lam.
  • Arundo triflora Roxb.
  • Arundo versicolor P. Mill
  • Cynodon donax (L.) Raspail
  • Donax arundinaceus P. Beauv. (Bed)
  • Donax bengalensis (Retz.) P.Beauv.
  • Donax bifarius (Retz.) Spreng.
  • Donax donax (L.) Asch. & Graebn.
  • Donax sativa (Lam.) J. Presl
  • Donax sativus C. Presl
  • Donax versicolor (Mill.) P.Beauv.
  • Scolochloa donax (L.) Gaudin

International Common Names

  • English: bamboo reed; giant cane; spanish reed; wild cane
  • Spanish: caña común; caña de Castilla; carizo; carrizo
  • French: canne de Provence; grand roseau
  • Arabic: ghab; qalam
  • Chinese: lu zhu
  • Portuguese: cana palustre; canno de reino

Local Common Names

  • Australia: bamboo; Danubian reed; e-grass; elephant grass; giant Danube grass; oboe reed
  • Brazil: cana do brejo; cana do reino; cana-brava; canno do reino; capim plumoso; taquara-do-reino
  • Chile: cañamo
  • Colombia: caña brava
  • Costa Rica: caña hueca
  • Cuba: caña de Castilla; caña de río; caña hueca; cañita de la india
  • Dominican Republic: cañita
  • Fiji: ngasau ni vavalangi
  • Germany: Pfahlrohr
  • Haiti: herbe roseau; roseau
  • India: nal
  • Italy: canna commune; canna comune; canna di Provenza
  • Netherlands: Pijlriet
  • Puerto Rico: caña gigante; guajana
  • Samoa: fiso palagi
  • South Africa: Spaanse-riet (Afrikaans
  • Spain: falso bamboo; gallipato alcublano; junco gigante
  • Tonga: kaho; kaho folalahi
  • Uruguay: caña musical

EPPO code

  • ABKDO (Arundo donax)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. donax is an aggressive species with an ability to reproduce quickly, allowing it to out-compete native plant species, and has established itself as one of the primary threats to native riparian habitats in its introduced range, dramatically altering ecological and successional processes and altering habitats towards dense, monotypic stands up to 8 m tall. It is listed as one of the 100 world’s worst invasive alien species (ISSG, 2011). This species represent a serious concern in arid and semiarid habitats because it outcompete native vegetation in the access to soil-water. It uses more water than native plants, lowering groundwater tables. A. donax is highly flammable and can change fire regimes in invaded areas (USDA-ARS, 2014).

Control is an expensive process involving cutting plants to the ground and manual application of herbicides to avoid harming native species. Biological control efforts are being developed as one of the primary tools for the long-term management of this pest. However, A. donax is a valuable and very fast-growing crop that is being promoted for the production of fuel, fibres and pulp, and is also widely used as an ornamental. This means that further introductions are likely and the balance between exploitation and threat as an invasive plant requires careful consideration (Raghu et al., 2006; Low and Booth, 2007).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Arundo
  •                                 Species: Arundo donax

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The currently accepted scientific name of giant reed is Arundo donax L. (Poaceae), the largest and most aggressive member of the three species of the genus Arundo, in the arundo tribe (Arundineae) along with common reed (Phragmites australis or Phragmites communis) and pampas grass (Cortaderia). There are several recognized varieties, including A. donax var. donax, A. donax var. versicolor (Mill.) Kunth and A. donax var. variegata Vilm. The variegated variety, A. donax var. versicolor (var. variegata or var. picta) has white-striped leaves and is known only in cultivation, and is in most respects a diminutive of typical A. donax. By selection of off-shoots, other variegated forms have been propagated which do not differ significantly from A. donax apart from their variegated leaves.

Description

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A. donax is a tall, erect, perennial cane- or reed-like grass. One of the largest herbaceous grasses, it can grow to 2-10 m tall. Its root structure is very strong, with the fleshy, almost bulbous, creeping rootstocks (rhizomes) forming compact bundles from which grow the fibrous roots, penetrating deep into the soil. The horizontal rhizomes give rise to many-stemmed, hollow, cane-like clumps allowing it to form large colonies many metres across. These tough, individual stems or culms are divided by partitions at the nodes like in bamboo, each node 12-30 cm in length and can reach diameters of 1-4 cm with walls 2-7 mm thick. They commonly branch during the second year of growth, rarely multiple, just single lateral branches from nodes. The outer tissue of the stem is of a silicaceous nature, hard and brittle with a smooth glossy surface that turns pale yellow when the culm is fully mature. The pale, blue-green leaves clasp the stem broadly with a heart-shaped, hairy-tufted base, 2-6 cm wide at the base and tapering to a fine tip, up to 70 cm or more in length. The leaves are arranged alternately throughout the culm and very distinctly two-ranked, in a single plane. The culms can remain green throughout the year but often fade with semi-dormancy during the winter or in droughts. The flowers are borne in large plume-like panicles, 30-65 cm, at the upper tips of stems between March and September and are closely packed in a cream to brown-coloured cluster. The spikelets, flowering units comprised of one or more florets enclosed by two bracts or glumes, are several flowered, approximately 12 mm long with florets becoming successively smaller. The segmented central axis of the spikelet, the rachilla, is glabrous and dis-articulates above the glumes and between the florets. The more or less unequal glumes are 3-nerved membranous, narrow, slender, pointed and as long as the spikelets. Lemmas, the larger, outer, bract which, along with the palea, serves to contain the florets held within, are thin, 3-nerved and covered with fine, soft hair. They are narrowed upwards with the nerves ending in slender teeth.

Plant Type

Top of page Aquatic
Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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A. donax is native to tropical and temperate regions of the Old World. Although it is often considered indigenous to the Mediterranean region (Hickman, 1993) or to warmer regions of the Old World (Munz, 1959), it may be an ancient introduction to Europe from South Asia, and the native range is here taken as Asiatic (i.e. temperate and tropical Asia; USDA-ARS, 2007). It is now widely dispersed into all similar climates of the world, and has also become naturalized and invasive in many regions, including southern Africa, sub-tropical USA (below 300 m altitude), Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and Pacific islands (Hafliger and Scholtz, 1981).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
AzerbaijanPresentPlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2014Origin uncertain
BahrainPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
BangladeshPresentIntroduced Invasive Biswas et al., 2007
BhutanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2014
CambodiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
ChinaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2007
-FujianPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuangdongPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuizhouPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HainanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HunanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-JiangsuPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-SichuanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-TibetPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-YunnanPresentNative Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive Swarbrick, 1997; PIER, 2007
Georgia (Republic of)PresentPlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2014Origin uncertain
IndiaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2007
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-AssamPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-BiharPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-ChandigarhPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-ChhattisgarhPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-Dadra and Nagar HaveliPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-DamanPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-DelhiPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-DiuPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-GoaPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-GujaratPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996; Khuroo et al., 2007
-JharkhandPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-KarnatakaPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-KeralaPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996; Clayton et al., 2014
-MaharashtraPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996; Clayton et al., 2014
-ManipurPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996
-NagalandPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996
-OdishaPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996; Clayton et al., 2014
-RajasthanPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014; Clayton et al., 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996; Clayton et al., 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
-West BengalPresentNative Natural Shukla, 1996; Clayton et al., 2014
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
-MoluccasPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
-SumatraPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
IranPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
IraqPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
IsraelPresentPlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2014Origin uncertain
JapanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003; Clayton et al., 2014
JordanPresentPlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2014
KazakhstanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003; Clayton et al., 2014
Korea, DPRPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
Korea, Republic ofPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
LaosPresentNative Natural Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
LebanonPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
MalaysiaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2003
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
MyanmarPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2014
NepalPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2003
OmanPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014
PakistanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Saudi ArabiaPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003; Clayton et al., 2014
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Chong et al., 2009Cultivated and naturalized
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2003; Clayton et al., 2014
SyriaPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
TaiwanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2007
TajikistanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003; Clayton et al., 2014
ThailandPresentNative Natural Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2014
TurkeyPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014; DAISIE, 2014
TurkmenistanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
UzbekistanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
VietnamPresentNative Natural Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2014
YemenPresentNativeClayton et al., 2014

Africa

AldabraPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
AlgeriaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
BotswanaPresentIntroducedBoland, 2006; Clayton et al., 2014
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Côte d'IvoireEradicatedBell, 1993
EgyptPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
Equatorial GuineaIntroduced, not establishedBell, 1993
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
GabonIntroduced, establishment uncertainAhmed et al., 1977
GambiaAbsent, intercepted only
GhanaAbsent, formerly presentAhmed et al., 1977
Guinea-BissauLast reportedBell, 1997
KenyaPresentIntroducedAhmed et al., 1977; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2014Noxious weed
LesothoPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2014
LibyaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
MadagascarPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
MoroccoPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
MozambiqueNo information availableBell, 1997
NamibiaWidespreadAhmed et al., 1977; Clayton et al., 2014
RwandaAbsent, unreliable recordBell, 1993
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
SeychellesPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
SomaliaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Rossa and Tueffers, 1998; Foxcroft et al., 2007
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Hafliger and Scholz, 1981; DAISIE, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandhuri and Ghosal, 1970; Bell, 1993; Bell, 1997; Christou et al., 2001; Boland, 2006; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2014
TunisiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive Bell, 1993; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2014
Western SaharaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014

North America

BermudaPresentIntroduced Planted Perdue, 1958; Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2007
USAPresentIntroduced1700 Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2007
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArizonaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced Planted
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced182* Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2014Noxious weed. One of the most serious and widespread invasive species in California.
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Wagner et al., 1999; USDA-NRCS, 2002; PIER, 2007
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-KansasPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-MarylandPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007; USDA-NRCS, 2014
-MississippiPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-MissouriPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-NevadaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-OklahomaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-TexasPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-UtahPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2007

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BahamasPresentIntroducedPerdue, 1958; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Clayton et al., 2014
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
BelizePresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Clayton et al., 2014Arundo donax var. versicolor
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012var. donax
DominicaPresentIntroducedArundo donax var, versicolor
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Planted Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
GrenadaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
HaitiPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
MartiniquePresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
NicaraguaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
Saint LuciaUnconfirmed recordIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Graveson, 2012; Krauss, 2012Probably extirpated
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
Sint MaartenPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Arundo donax var. versicolor
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2007

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; I3N-Argentina, 2014
BoliviaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
BrazilPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
-Fernando de NoronhaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2014
-GoiasPresentIntroducedFilgueiras, 2014Naturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedFilgueiras, 2014Naturalized
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedFilgueiras, 2014Naturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedFilgueiras, 2014Naturalized
-PernambucoPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedFilgueiras, 2014Naturalized
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Filgueiras, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedFilgueiras, 2014Naturalized
ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; I3N-Chile, 2014Also invasive on J. Fernandez Island
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; I3N-Colombia, 2014
EcuadorPresentIntroduced Invasive Jorgensen and Leon-Yanez, 1999; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007Continental Ecuador: Carchi, El Oro, Esmeralda, Guayas, Napo, Pichincha, Scucmbios, Tungurahua
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Guezou et al., 2010Isabela, Floreana, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Islands
French GuianaPresentIntroduced Planted Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 2003; Clayton et al., 2014
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
PeruPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
SurinamePresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
UruguayPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007
VenezuelaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014

Europe

AlbaniaPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; Clayton et al., 2014
BelgiumPresentIntroducedVerloove, 2006Casual alien
CroatiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014Naturalized
CyprusPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2007; DAISIE, 2014Naturalized
FrancePresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalPerdue, 1958; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; DAISIE, 2014
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
GreecePresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalChristou et al., 2001; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; Arianoutsou et al., 2010
HungaryPresentIntroducedSzabo and Varhegyi, 1996; Balogh et al., 2004
ItalyPresentIntroduced Invasive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; Celesti-Grapow et al., 2009
MacedoniaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
MaltaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
PortugalPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; DAISIE, 2014
-AzoresPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
RomaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014
SerbiaPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
SpainPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalSanz-Elorza et al., 2001; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007; DAISIE, 2014
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized
SwitzerlandPresentIntroduced Invasive Wittenberg, 2005
UKPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2007; Thomas, 2010
UkrainePresentIntroduced Natural USDA-ARS, 2014Naturalized
Yugoslavia (former)PresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentIntroduced Natural Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2007

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Hafliger and Scholz, 1981; PIER, 2007
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Planted Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011Noxious weed
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Planted Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Hussey et al., 1997; Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Planted Space and Flynn, 2002a; PIER, 2007
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Smith, 1979; PIER, 2007
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007; Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresentIntroduced Planted Stone, 1970; Fosberg et al., 1987; PIER, 2007
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedPIER, 2007; Herrera et al., 2010Pohnpei Island
NauruPresentIntroduced Invasive Thaman et al., 1994; PIER, 2007
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2007
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Edgar and Connor, 2000; PIER, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2007
NiuePresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Orchard, 1994
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Space et al., 2003; PIER, 2007
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2007
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Yuncker, 1959; Space and Flynn, 2001
VanuatuPresentIntroducedClayton et al., 2014
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer, 2007

History of Introduction and Spread

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It is believed that A. donax was introduced from Asia via the Middle East to the entire Mediterranean basin in prehistory. It was only later exported from the Mediterranean by early French and Spanish colonialists, and widely dispersed, largely by man into all the subtropical and warm temperate areas of the world. In many areas it has become well established. In its native range, it is abundant in India, ascending to elevations of 2500 m in the Himalayas, and is found throughout China and South-East Asia. The species has been successfully introduced into northern, central and southern parts of Africa. In South Africa, A. donax was first recorded in 1953 (Foxcroft et al., 2007). It has been introduced into Australia and many islands of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In Australia it was first collected in Queensland in 1912.

A. donax has also been widely dispersed in the New World, from the USA to South America, and occurs in most of the West Indies. It was first introduced into the United States at Los Angeles, California in the early 1800's, and it escaped from cultivation as far north as Virginia and Missouri. It has been widely planted, often as an ornamental, throughout the warmer states of the USA, especially in the south-west where it was planted along ditches for erosion control since 1820. In California A. donax was first planted in the 1820’s to provide roofing materials and for erosion control in the Los Angeles Basin area, from where it escaped and rapidly spread throughout the southern and southwestern United States (Hoddle and Goolsby, 2010). In the West indies, A. donax was first reported in 1864 for Jamaica and Antigua (Grisebach, 1864) and in 1883 in Puerto Rico (Bello, 1883).

Risk of Introduction

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Further spread is highly probable given its ease of propagation from water-carried rhizome fragments and the commercial availability/agricultural plantings of A. donax and value as an alternative to tree products and as a soil-stabilizing ornamental species. Regulatory processes have been initiated in California to add it to the CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) Noxious Weed List which may result in state-wide ordinances preventing sale or transfer of A. donax. The California Exotic Pest Plant Council puts A. donax on its 'List A: Most Invasive Wildland Pests'. However, A. donax growth and productivity is also being studied to assess its suitability for the production of biomass for energy, paper pulp, and the construction of building materials which would ultimately lead to the establishment of more A. donax plantations and an economic industry based on it.

Habitat

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A. donax is a hydrophyte but can grow in a wide range of conditions, from moist well-drained soils to those with a water table at or near the surface. Soil preferences are also broad, occurring on coarse sands, gravelly soils, heavy clays and river sediments from freshwater to semi-saline soils on brackish estuaries or in ditches, and along the banks of streams, rivers and lakes. There are abundant naturalized populations in California, along the Rio Grande River, Texas, USA, and in Mexico. It is almost certain that invasive populations are the result of escapes and displacement of plants from commercial plantations and horticultural propagation. It is spread throughout the southern USA in private gardens and is spreading into riparian habitats from Arkansas and Texas to California, and may be established in coastal areas from Maryland south to Florida. It is particularly prominent in the coastal river basins in southern California where it sometimes occupies entire river channels from bank to bank (Jackson et al., 1994) and is thought to have invaded following large storms in the late 1960s. In Hawaii, it has naturalized in coastal areas, often in thickets (Wagner et al., 1999). In Fiji, it is widespread on hillsides, in open forest, and along roadsides, up to about 200 m (Smith, 1979).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Irrigation channels Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal dunes Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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A. donax is not usually a weed of crops, rather tending to out-compete and displace native vegetation in riparian habitats. However, it has been reported as invasive in pasture/cropland in South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic (ISSG, 2007; Randall, 2012).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Baccharis salicifolia (seepwillow)AsteraceaeWild host
Populus (poplars)SalicaceaeWild host
Rubus ursinus (boysenberry)RosaceaeWild host
Salix (willows)SalicaceaeWild host

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The base chromosome is x=12, but with numerous ploidy levels reported, with 2n=60, 2n=72, 2n=110 and 2n=112. A chromosome number of 2n=40 has been recorded for A. donax var. macrophylla. There are generally low levels of genetic variation in introduced populations as they tend to reproduce only vegetatively.

Physiology and Phenology

New shoots arise from rhizomes in nearly any season, but most commonly in the spring. Growth also occurs in any season, but is highly sensitive to temperature and moisture. Under favourable conditions (warm and wet months), A. donax grows very rapidly. Growth rates of up to 0.7 m/week have been recorded, putting it among the fastest growing terrestrial plants. Young culms develop at the full diameter of older canes and further growth involves thickening of the walls. The new growth is soft, very high in moisture and has little wind resistance (Perdue, 1958). Age of individual culms is certainly more than one year and branching seems to represent stem growth in later years, whereas rhizomes show indeterminate growth. Branches can also form when a stem is cut or laid over. Die-back is infrequently observed but culms fade or become partially brown in winter, becoming dormant under cold conditions.

Reproductive Biology

Very little information is available in the literature regarding the biology of A. donax. Although plants have been grown in scattered locations from seed collected in Asia, it is reported that A. donax does not produce viable seeds in most areas where it is apparently well-adapted. The importance of sexual reproduction to the species, as well as seed viability, dormancy, germination and seedling establishment have yet to be well studied. Population expansion thus occurs almost exclusively through vegetative reproduction in most reported cases, either from underground rhizome extension of a colony or from plant fragments carried downstream, to become rooted and form new clones (Else, 1996). Root formation can also occur where an attached culm has fallen over and is in contact with the substrate, and such layering has now been proposed as a more common means of reproduction in invasive stands in the USA than either via rhizome extension or plant fragments (Boland, 2006). Much of the cultivation of A. donax is therefore initiated by planting rhizomes that root and sprout readily. Wild stands in the USA have reportedly yielded over 20 t of oven-dry biomass per ha (Perdue, 1958).

Environmental Requirements

A. donax is extremely tolerant to different climates and can survive and grow at almost any time under a wide variety of environmental conditions. However, it does not appear to tolerate high elevations over much of its native and introduced ranges, nor does it like continental environments where regular freezing occurs. In Egypt, it was found to tolerate both higher and lower water table levels than Phragmites australis. Often found on sand dunes near seashores. It tends to favour low gradients <2% grade) over steeper and smaller channels, but scattered colonies can be found in moist sites or springs on steeper slopes. It is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 300-4000 mm, annual temperatures of 9-29°C and a soil pH of 5.0-8.7 (Duke, 1975). It has been found at altitudes approaching 4000 m in Ecuador (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
45 7 0 4000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 7 29

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3004000mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Longiunguis donacis Herbivore Leaves
Microsphaeropsis arundinis Pathogen Leaves/Stems
Puccinia arundinis-donaeis Pathogen Leaves
Puccinia torosa Pathogen Leaves
Tetramesa romana Herbivore Stems

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Armillaria mellea, Leptostroma donacis, Papularia sphaerosperma, Puccinia coronata and Selenophoma donacis have been identified as affecting A. donax (Bell, 1997). The effects and specificity of Phoma glomerata and Alveophoma arundinis attacking the leaves and stems have yet to be ascertained. The leaves of A. donax contain a number of toxic and unpalatable natural minerals and chemicals, such as silica, cardiac glycosides, hydromaxic acids, and alkaloids that protect the plant from native insects (Bell, 1993). Due to the presence of these toxic chemicals and minerals that protect the plant from native insects that might attempt to feed or reproduce upon it, such species become scarce with the invasion of A. donax. Unfortunately, little is known about predators in its invasive range that can damage or kill A. donax. A number of invertebrates are known to feed on the grass in Eurasia and Africa (El-Enany, 1985; Hoshovsky, 1987). Caterpillars of Phothedes dulcis have been reported feeding on A. donax in France (Dufay, 1979); Zyginidia guyumi in Pakistan (Ahmed et al., 1977) and the moth borer, Diatraea saccharalis in Barbados (Tucker, 1940) have also been reported.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

In its native range, wind dispersal of seeds is facilitated by having a dense seed head on the end of a tall, flexible stem, presumably sending the seeds some distance. Established plants may expand by rhizome extension roughly 0.5 m per year. More research is needed to determine the importance of sexual reproduction and whether viable seeds are in fact produced in this species. In its introduced range, vegetative propagation is key to its establishment in new locations, and is essentially an intra-basin and downstream phenomenon with rhizome fragments dispersing along watercourses, particularly post flooding.

Agricultural Practices

It may be spread locally by agricultural machinery and as a contaminant in soil and crop seeds.

Intentional Introduction

A. donax has been purposefully introduced by man and cultivated into many of the subtropical and warm temperate areas of the world for a number of uses. It is planted as an ornamental and cultivated for a variety of uses including erosion control along ditches and drainage canals. It is available via the nursery trade and spreads as a garden escapee and through the disposal of garden waste.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activities Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2014
Land vehiclesSeeds, plant fragments Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2014
Machinery and equipmentSeeds, plant fragments Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2014
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes Dudley, 2000
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds, plant fragments Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2014
WaterSeeds Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2014
WindSeeds Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2014

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds
Growing medium accompanying plants
Roots
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches stems
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Leaves
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Wood

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Fisheries / aquaculture Negative
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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When flooding occurs in areas heavily populated by A. donax, it forces flood waters out of the primary channels and into critical banks, bridges and other physical structures. In addition, its stems and rhizomes break off in the flood currents and flow with the flood. These rhizomes and stems deposit themselves in drainage systems, along small agricultural ditches, under bridges and in other flood control systems where it can quickly re-establish itself in these new locations. This leads to costly clean-up operations to un-block obstructed waterways, and quite possibly structural damage and hazards when trapped behind bridges and other structures. This can put an economic strain on areas inundated with A. donax. Costs of removal vary but can be in excess of US$10,000/ha, and areas are rapidly re-infested if sustained control efforts are not maintained over many years. A. donax stands collect sediments from stream flow. As the sediment surface under the A. donax stands rise, it can force the stream water into new paths which then interact with other infestations downstream or across the stream. The result is accelerated erosion of stream banks, lost property, and expensive repairs to the property.

Environmental Impact

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A. donax is an aggressive species with an ability to reproduce quickly, allowing it to out-compete native plant species. It displaces native plants and wildlife as a consequence of the massive stands it forms but the exact mechanism of competition is not yet known. Unlike native riparian plants, A. donax provides little shading to the in-stream habitat, leading to increased water temperatures, lower oxygen and reduced habitat quality for aquatic wildlife (Hoshovsky, 1987; Team Arundo del Norte, 2002). A. donax is also known to interfere with the management of flood defences and wildlife habitat management. A. donax is also thought to alter hydrological regimes and reduce groundwater availability by transpiring large amounts of water from semi-arid aquifers and layers of permeable rock (Iverson, 1994) consuming three times more water than native plants. It also causes substantial alterations to water flow during storm events leading to increased erosion.

A. donax infestations are threatening native riparian vegetation in California, USA. In the Santa Ana River of Southern California, for example, it is estimated that 68% of the riparian vegetation is comprised of A. donax (Dudley, 2000). A. donax has displaced native vegetation which provides nesting sites for native species such as the Least Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellipusillas), a federally endangered species, the Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillieximos), a federally threatened species, and the Yellow Cuckoo (Bell, 1993). A. donax is also known to be a habitat for the invasive Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) which has caused/contributed to the extinction/range reduction of native mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates through predation and competition. A. donax displaces native riparian vegetation, forming huge monocultures which can cover hundreds of hectares and provide poor habitats for terrestrial insects and wildlife. It crowds out native plants that shade streams, resulting in warmer water that harms aquatic life. Unpalatability of A. donax to native fauna could then impact on wildlife which depend on insects normally supported by the native vegetation. With the invasion of A. donax, what was once a complex food web becomes simplified, leaving fewer species that can survive in its presence.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Catostomus santaanae (Santa Ana sucker)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCaliforniaEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011

Social Impact

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A. donax is an extremely flammable plant even when green. The thick stands ignite quickly and easily, and through their extensive placement, can double the available fuel for wildfires which can spread rapidly through entire riparian systems, often near urbanized areas. Post-fire regeneration of even greater quantities of A. donax can then occur (Scott, 1994).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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This species has been extensively cultivated throughout Asia, southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East for thousands of years and has been planted widely in North and South America and Australasia in the past century (Perdue, 1958; Zohary, 1962). Subsequent plantings have been made for the production of reeds for a variety of musical instruments including bassoons and bagpipes. A. donax is a poly-annual crop, reported in the literature to live for more than 40 years, that can offer good yields of 15-40 t dry matter/ha/yr. It can be used for energy production (Duke, 1983), fibre production (e.g. cellulose for rayon manufacture), paper pulp production, materials for basket-work, living barriers such as garden fences and trellises, crude shelters, building and roofing material, erosion control or bank stabilization, arrows, fishing rods and livestock fodder.

A. donax has played an important role in the culture of the western world through its influence on the development of music, which can be traced back 5000 years. A. donax cane was the source of the original Pan pipe or syrix and to this day the A. donax culms remain an unrivalled source of reeds for woodwind instruments (Perdue, 1958). The cultivation of cane for woodwind reeds has largely been limited to a small area in France and also in Texas and California, USA. Even before its musical qualities were appreciated, Egyptians used it to line underground grain storage as early as 5000 BC and its leaves were used to wrap mummies in around 400 AD.

Medicinally, the rhizomes have been used as a sudorific, a diuretic, a diaphoretic, an emollient, a galactofuge and as an anti-lactant in the treatment of dropsy (Duke and Wain, 1981). Isolated alkaloids have been experimentally shown to raise the blood pressure and contract the intestine and uterus. Boiled in wine with honey, the root or rhizome has been used for treating cancer (Duke, 1983). The plant contains the alkaloid gramine, said to be a vasopressor, raising the blood pressure in dogs in small doses and causing a fall in larger doses. The stems have also been used as splints for broken limbs. Culinary uses include the cooking of the young shoots and leaves, and the rhizome can be dried and ground into a powder to make bread, usually in conjunction with cereal flours or it can also be roasted or boiled.

However, with the recent upsurge in demand for biofuels that is likely to continue, interest in A. donax as a very fast growing source of biomass is increasing, and further introductions and/or plantations are to be expected. However, the debate as to possible demerits of establishing potential invasive biofuel species will continue (e.g. Raghu et al., 2006; Low and Booth, 2007).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Landscape improvement
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil conservation
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Biofuels
  • Fuelwood
  • Miscellaneous fuels

General

  • Ornamental

Materials

  • Fibre
  • Miscellaneous materials

Ornamental

  • Propagation material

Wood Products

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Roundwood

  • Roundwood structures

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Exterior fittings
  • Fences
  • Flooring
  • For light construction

Woodware

  • Musical instruments

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A. donax can be confused with the closely related common reed (Phragmites australis or Phragmites communis) and pampas grass (Cortaderia spp.), also with cultivated bamboos, and in its earlier growth stages with some large-stature grasses such as Elymus spp. Common reed (Phragmites spp.) is, however, less than 4 m tall and has panicles with long hairs between the florets.

Prevention and Control

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Control

Cultural control

Prescribed burning has been used to control A. donax, with a flame thrower being used as a cheap, alternative spot treatment to heat-girdle the stems at the base of the plant. Larger, mature, infestations can be burnt by broadcast burning with or without a prior pre-spray of herbicides to kill and desiccate the plants. This is generally not recommended as it does not kill the underground rhizomes and probably encourages A. donax germination over native riparian species. Burning presents containment risks and the possibility of damage to beneficial species, resulting from soil disturbances which may result from firebreak construction as well as from difficulties of promoting fire through patchily distributed stands. Cut material is often burnt on site because of the difficulties associated with collection and removal of all the chipping material.

Prescribed grazing is a managerial control method sometimes employed to control A. donax. Although A. donax is not very palatable to cattle, during the drier seasons they do browse young shoots, followed by upper parts of more mature plants (Wynd et al., 1948). In parts of California, USA, goats have been used quite effectively to control A. donax (Daar, 1983) although they tend to be less selective than sheep and the latter have been shown in feeding experiments to survive for extended periods on a diet of A. donax alone (Frattegglani-Bianchi, 1963). Although sheep may prove a more practical alternative to mowing in some cases, it is important to manage this so as to avoid soil compaction problems in overly damp areas. It has also been suggested that wild geese breeds might contribute to A. donax control efforts given their capacity to consume weed grasses and sedges.

Since A. donax in its invasive range appears to be unable to regenerate much, if at all, from wind or water-carried seeds or small propagules, its invasiveness could be controlled by not planting within the 50- or 100-year floodplain, and placing barrier screen systems along irrigation canals.

Mechanical control

Smaller infestations can be eradicated by manual methods, especially where there is a risk of damage to sensitive native plants and wildlife by other methods. This is successful with young plants less than 2 m in height, but care must be taken to remove all the rhizome material, and as such may be more effective in loose soils and after periods of rain when the substrate is more workable. Plants can also be removed using hand tools such as pick-axes and shovels, particularly in combination with the cutting of stems near the base with pruning shears or a chainsaw. Stems and roots should be removed or burned on site to avoid re-rooting and a chipper can be used to reduce the volume of cut material. For larger infestations on accessible terrain, heavier tools such as rotary brush-cutters, chainsaws and tractor mounted mowers may facilitate biomass reduction and should be followed either by rhizome removal or chemical treatment. These methods may be of limited use on inaccessible or sloping terrain, and may interfere with the re-establishment of native plants and animals (Hoshovsky, 1987). Mechanical control tends to be very difficult as even rhizomes buried 1-3 m deep readily resprout (Else, 1996) and removal of all such material is not practical, especially in sensitive sites where soil disturbance is disruptive or where soils are susceptible to compaction or erosion or when they are saturated.

Chemical control

In many situations, this may be necessary and is usually carried out in combination with mechanical control. Glyphosate is most commonly used against A. donax, which is approved for use in wetlands. As a broad-spectrum herbicide, care should be taken to avoid application or drift onto desirable vegetation. This can be achieved by treating the culms directly, also reducing herbicide costs, with fair results being achieved year round with best kill in autumn (Else, 1996). Concentrated glyphosate solution is applied to the stems, cut at a height of 5-10 cm, by painting with a sponge or spraying with a hand mister. Adding a dye to the solution can help identify the treated material. The solution must be applied immediately after cutting, as translocation ceases within minutes of cutting. As new growth is sensitive to herbicides, so a common alternative is to cut or mow a patch and allow regeneration, returning 3 weeks to 3 months later to treat the new growth. With all chemical methods, follow-up treatment and assessment are necessary. The optimal application period is post-flowering and pre-dormancy, usually in late July to early October when plants are translocating nutrients into roots and rhizomes. Foliar uptake and kill are best achieved by spraying during the active growing periods from late Spring to early Autumn and small patches can be treated from the ground using backpack or towed sprayers, and major infestations have been aerially sprayed using helicopters in the USA (Zembal and Hoffman, 2000).

Biological control

Pest surveys and assessments have been initiated for the biological control of A. donax, but no biological control agents have yet been released. A number of invertebrates is known to feed on the grass in Eurasia and Africa (El-Enany, 1985; Hoshovsky, 1987). Caterpillars of Phothedes dulcis have been reported feeding on A. donax in France (Dufay, 1979); Zyginidia guyumi in Pakistan (Ahmed et al., 1977) and the moth borer, Diatraea saccharalis in Barbados (Tucker, 1940) have also been reported. A review of the CABI Bioscience herbarium suggests that there are obligate biotrophic fungi associated with A. donax in China, but not India or Pakistan, lending weight to the theory that China may in fact be a truer centre of origin for the species. As with invertebrates, a number of pathogens are also associated with A. donax in its naturalized range. Given the commercial value of A. donax, the use of insects and/or pathogens would undoubtedly engender conflicts of interest. Biological control is thought to offer one of the best options for long-term, affordable and environmentally friendly management of A. donax. The ARS European Biological Control Laboratory (Montpellier, France) in cooperation with a USDA-ARS laboratory initiated a foreign exploration programme in 1999 which has already located potential agents in the Mediterranean Basin, India and Sri Lanka (Kirk et al., 2003). A. donax stems and leaves contain a wide array of noxious chemicals, including silica (Jackson and Nunez, 1964), tri-terpines and sterols (Chandhuri and Ghosal, 1970), cardiac glycosides, curare-mimicking indoles (Ghosal et al., 1972), hydroxamic acid (Zuñiga et al., 1983), and numerous other alkaloids which, however, probably protect it from most native insects and other grazers (Zuñiga et al., 1983; Miles et al., 1993).

Integrated Control

A suite of methods is needed to control A. donax depending upon the presence or absence of native plants, the size of the stand, the amount of biomass which must be dealt with, the terrain and the season. Several technical approaches can be successful, with the best one for a particular site dependent on available labour resources, the size of the infestion, degree of intermixing with desirable native riparian vegetation, site accessibility and other factors. Follow-up treatments are usually necessary for one to five years after the initial control. Often the lower, frequently flooded stream banks will re-vegetate spontaneously, and upper, drier banks may need re-planting with native species. Where A. donax is the only vegetation on stream banks, post-eradication revegetation efforts may be critical for bank stabilization. Team Arundo del Norte (2002), comprising a number of organizations and agencies dedicated to tackling this problem weed, is producing a brochure for the general public, a handbook for landowners who are becoming interested in A. donax removal, a guide for organizations who want to start an A. donax removal programme, and a public-education video.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Ahmed M, Jabbar A, Samad K, 1977. Ecology and behaviour of Zyginidia quyumi (Typhlocybinae: Cicadellidae) in Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Zoology, 9(1):79-85

Arianoutsou M, Bazos I, Delipetrou P, Kokkoris Y, 2010. The alien flora of Greece: taxonomy, life traits and habitat preferences. Biological Invasions, 12(10):3525-3549. http://www.springerlink.com/content/64p8761783323136/

Balogh L, Dancza I, Kiraly G, 2004. Actual list of neophytes in Hungary and their classification according to their success. In: Biological invasions in Hungary - Invasive plants [ed. by Mihaly, B. \Botta-Dukat, Z.]. 61-92.

Bell GP, 1993. Biology and Growth Habits of Giant Reed (Arundo donax). In: Jackson NE, Frandsen P, Douthit S, eds. Arundo donax workshop proceedings, Ontario, Canada, 1-6. http://www.ceres.ca.gov/tadn/TA_proceedings.html.

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22/04/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

26/10/2007 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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