January Plant of the Month: Common Reed (MT: Qasbet ir-Riħ) Phragmites australis

Project Pancake Flora –

 Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone
Common Reed- Photo by Alex Casha

It may not be showy and flowery but this tall perennial grass plays an extremely important role in areas where it is native. The latin name Phragmites comes from the Greek term for ‘fenced in’ which describes well its habit of spreading quickly once it starts colonising a site as a pioneer species. This perennial grass can grow around 2metres high – about half the size of the Giant Reed. The cosmopolitan Common reed can form dense reedbeds especially in coastal wetlands as well as in rdum areas close to springs. It provides an extremely important habitat in Malta as a refuge for migrating and resident birds.

Well known by now for its use in phytoremediation water treatment and as a biomonitoring species, it has a high ability of absorbing extra carbon and nitrogen as well as aiding to build up soil thanks to its extensive underground rhizome network system. Some scientists describe it as a super plant in its hardiness and ability to adapt to changing conditions which may translate into its utility in climate change and in areas prone to rising sea levels.

The Common Reed is considered to be edible. The reed is sometimes adapted for use in creating sounds.

About Project PANCAKE:

As part of the Project PANCAKE (Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone) we are looking at a number of plant species chosen together with the deaf communities in Malta, Italy, Spain and UK to create new signs for plants which until now had never been described in sign language. 

Read more about PANCAKE here!

Check out our Community library for publications on local biodiversity!

Click here to get an insight into Trees and Shrubs of the Maltese Islands and their Habitats by Eman J. Calleja.

Photos by Alex Casha, Benjamin Metzger and text by Annalise Falzon

Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone

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