Team Arundo del Norte
Arundo donax Fact Sheet
Scientific name: Arundo donax
Common names: Giant Reed, Wild Cane
Photo: Arundo location data collection with GPS
Arundo donax is a tall, perennial, bamboo-like grass that prefers stream banks and other wet areas. It attains heights of 25 feet and once established forms large, continuous root masses. A single clump typically has hundreds of stems that grow very close together and very rapidly-- several inches per day in the Spring and Summer. The plant reproduces vegetatively by spreading outward and from clumps broken off from an adult plant, which can happen in flood events. Both the stems and the underground parts called rhizomes have the ability to propagate.
Arundo is believed to have been imported from the Mediterranean by the early Spanish settlers. It was once useful to people for building materials and as a rapidly growing barrier. As many alien plants do, Arundo has escaped cultivation and reproduced itself until it is now out of control.
Why Arundo is undesirable-
Due to the many detrimental effects of the spread of Arundo, it is agreed by biologists and land management professionals to be one of the primary threats to the health of the streams and waterways of the Western United States.
The plant did not evolve in California and the newcomer Arundo has no effective competitors in our California stream beds. The dense, high growing plant quickly chokes and kills everything in its path. The result is a sea of "Cane"- a single species, where there were once hundreds. Wildlife that depended on the alders, cottonwoods, bays, willows, annuals, and open space lose their habitats and food sources. In addition to these adverse effects, Arundo consumes three times more water than native plants, is a fire hazard, and creates serious flood control problems.
California Exotic Pest Plant Council/Team Arundo's Arundo donax Workshop Proceedings, available from the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District, PO Box 3507, Riverside, CA 92519-3507.