Typical varieties are Phragmites australis (common reed) and wild reed. Distribution is worldwide. Optimum pH is 2 to 8. Salinity tolerance is <45 ppt. Growth is very rapid, via rhizomes; lateral spread is approximately 3 ft/yr (1 m/yr), providing very dense cover in 1 yr with plants spaced at 2 ft (0.6 m). Deep root penetration in gravel is approximately 1.5 ft (0.4 m). Annual yield is approximately 18 (dw) ton/ac (40 mt/ha). Tissue (dw basis) is approximately 45% C, 20% N, 2% P; 40% solids. With regard to habitat values, reeds have low food value for most birds and animals and some value as nesting cover for birds and animals. They can be permanently inundated up to about 1 m (3 ft), and are also very drought resistant. They are considered by some to be an invasive pest species in natural wetlands in the United States. They have been very successfully used at constructed wastewater treatment wetlands in the United States. They are the dominant species used for this purpose in Europe. Because of its low food value, this species is not subject to the damage caused by muskrat and nutria which has occurred in constructed wetlands supporting other plant species.

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