Giant Reed

Scientific Name(s): Arundo donax
Abundance: plentiful
What: roots, leaves, young shoots
How: roots raw, cooked, ground into flour; leaves boiled; young shoots raw or cooked
Where: sunny wet ditches, moist areas
When: spring, summer
Nutritional Value: calories, minerals
Dangers: contains small amount of alkaloid gramine which is more toxic to dogs than to humans

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are elongated and lanceolate, with a length ranging from 12 to 24 inches and a width of 1 to 2 inches.

Leaf Venation: The venation is parallel, with prominent longitudinal veins running the length of the leaves.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margins are entire, providing a smooth edge.

Leaf Color: The leaves are typically green, and both the top and underside have similar coloring.

Flower Structure: The flowering structures are panicles, characterized by numerous small spikelets arranged on branches.

Flower Color: The flowers are often beige to light brown.

Fruit: The fruits are small and inconspicuous, developing within the spikelets.

Seed: Seeds are typically small and numerous, found within the spikelets.

Stem: The stems are robust, hollow, and cane-like, with a green to grayish color and a diameter ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 inches.

Hairs: The stems and leaves may lack noticeable hairs.

Height: Arundo donax is a tall grass, and its height can reach up to 20 feet or more, depending on growing conditions.

Stand of Giant Reeds. These are over seven feet tall.
Giant Reed

Slightly closer view of Giant Reeds.
Giant Reed

Giant reeds in later spring. The green ones are this-years growth.

Young giant reed shoot.

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Giant reeds look very similar to bamboo, especially towards the base. The reed is hollow like bamboo and structurally can be used in many of the same ways as bamboo though it does not have the full load-bearing strength of bamboo. Giant reeds are considered to be invasive plants and can quickly swallow any location where they get enough sun and moisture.

The roots (rhizomes) are the main edible portion of giant reeds. They contain some calories in the form of starch and even sugars, especially when still young and tender. As the roots age they become fibrous/woody. The young roots can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed, or baked. They can also be dried then ground into flour.

The leaves are edible though quite bitter. Their flavor can be mellowed by boiling. A change of water during boiling usually isn't necessary except with the most bitter of leaves.

The young shoots, when available, are used like bamboo shoots and/or asparagus.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Privacy & Amazon Paid Promotion Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The prices you pay for the item isn't affected, my sales commission comes out of Amazon's pocket.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.