Arundo donax (Giant reed) | BCH-ORGA-SCBD-115841 | Organism | Biosafety Clearing-House


Organism (ORGA)

last updated: 08 Dec 2020
Organism information
Arundo donax
Kingdom Viridiplantae
Phylum Streptophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Poales
Family Poaceae
Genus Arundo
Species Arundo donax
  • Giant reed
Characteristics related to biosafety
Thought to be native to East Asia.
Extremely tolerant to environmental conditions with the exception of higher elevations and regions that receive frost. Tolerates wide variety of soils, water levels (even standing water) and heavy metals.
Cultivated in Asia, southern Europe and Northern Africa for thousands of years. Introduced to Pacific and the Americas as an ornamental plant and is now widespread in temperate and tropical climates.
  • Ornamental
  • Fiber/textile
  • Other (Soil erosion)
  • Other (Materials)
Additional Information
Arundo donax is listed as one of the 100 world's worst invasive alien species due to its aggressive growth, environmental tolerance and long life (over 40 years). The reed can reached heights of 10 meters. Vegetative reproduction appears to be principle means for population expansion through rhizome extension or plant fragments carried downstream (root formation can occur on plant fragments). Once established, the giant reed can form colonies spanning several acres. Sexual reproduction may not be important for this species as most specimens do not produce viable seeds. Even when green, the plants are highly flammable.

A. donax has been cultivated as a source of materials for instruments (flutes, pipes, etc.), building materials, materials for basket weaving and fuelwood. The reed was introduced to other areas as an ornamental plant and to stabilize soils against erosion. Other potential applications include carbon sequestration, source of fibre (pulp and paper, rayon) and use as an energy crop. Medically, the reed has been used as a sudorific, a diuretic, a diaphoretic, an emollient, a galactofuge and an anti-lactant in the treatment of dropsy. Isolated alkaloids may also raise blood pressure and contract the intestine. Phytocompounds may also have anti-carcinogenic properties.

The reed contains a base chromosome number of 12. However, various ploidy levels have been reported. Genetic diversity is expected to be low due to the vegetative propagation of the reed. Thus far, the chloroplast is the only genome to be completely sequenced (GenBank: KX109945.1). De novo assembly of the transcriptome has occurred.
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