Botanical Name: Arundo donax
Flowering Period: March to May
Native to: Although it probably originated in Asia, for centuries it has been grown in, and has naturalised around, the Mediterranean Sea.
This is a tall, bamboo-like reed, which at 6 m high, is one of the tallest members of the grass family. Its tall stems grow to about 2-3 cm wide, hold creamy white or green leaves up to 60 cm long, and long, feather-like flower heads of up to 70 cm form on the ends. This is a hardy plant but it prefers to grow in damp soils.
Giant Reed has a long history of use by humans. The first pen or stylus was the sharp end of the reed taken from the top of this plant and used to make marks in clay tablets. Today it is used for the reeds in woodwind musical instruments, for windbreaks and for screening plants, for paper pulp, and even as a stockfeed. Indigenous people in many lands also use it for making baskets, walking sticks and fishing rods.
Location in Zoo: In the African Savannah around the perimeter of the Lion exhibit.
Use in the Zoo: Apart from its use as a screening and ornamental plant, Giant Reed can be used as fodder for Elephants when the shoots are young.