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Reeds growing in saltmarsh in the estuary of the River Tay.

Reed is a common name for several tall, grass-like plants of wetlands.



They are all members of the order Poales (in the modern, expanded circumscription), and include:

In the Poaceae (grass) family
In the Cyperaceae (sedge) family
  • Paper reed or papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), the source of the Ancient Egyptian writing material, also used for making boats
In the Typhaceae family
  • Bur-reed (Sparganium species)
  • Reed-mace (Typha species), also called bulrush or cattail
In the Restionaceae family
  • Cape thatching reed (Elegia tectorum), a restio originating from the South-western Cape, South Africa.
  • Thatching reed (Thamnochortus insignis), another restio species originating from the same geographic region.

Use in constructionEdit

A reed house under construction in the marshes of Iraq, 1978
Reed houses being built on a reed island in Lake Titicaca

Many cultures have used reeds in construction of buildings of various types.

Use in thatchingEdit

A man in Germany thatching a roof using reeds

Phragmites australis, the common reed, is used in many areas for thatching roofs. In the United Kingdom, common reed used for this purpose is known as "Norfolk reed" or "water reed". However, "wheat reed" and "Devon reed" are not in fact reed at all, but long-stemmed wheat straw.

Other usesEdit

Bamboo and, even more commonly, rattan stems are used as "reed sticks" to wick and disperse the scent of essential oils in aroma diffusers. (See Rattan#Food source and medicinal potential.)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit