Common reed

Common reed
Image: Darkone
Community type

Reed swamp

Habitat type

Tidal wetlands and macrophytes beds

The common reed is a robust perennial plant growing to 4 metres high. It loves fresh water 0.2–1 metre deep and also tolerates brackish waters of estuaries where rivers meet the sea. Due to this wide range of habitat tolerances it is common in tidal wetlands, freshwater swamps and marshlands throughout the Derwent estuary. In preferred conditions the common reed can grow up to 4 metres tall, and densely inhabit the banks and shallow waters of wetlands and rivers. It provides a range of ecosystem services. Due to its density stands of common reeds provide habitat for birds and amphibians. Swamp harriers and black swans often nest among them, gaining concealment from predators, and shelter from the wind. Common reeds also improve bank stabilisation and purify water by up taking nutrients during their rapid growth each spring. Their ability to clean polluted water means they are often planted in urban water sensitive design to treat storm water and waste-water. Large flower heads appear during September and October, are retained for many months and look like dusters one would use to clean the house.

Much of the text within the species area of our website was written by Veronica Thorpe, as part of the Derwent River Wildlife Guide (2000).

The DEP has developed a variety of classroom and outdoor activities focused around the key estuary habitats of tidal wetlands, salt marshes and rocky reefs. These include classroom materials, online resources, interpretive walks, games and sensory experiences.