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Family Poaceae
Giant reed
Arundo donax L.
Lu zhu

Scientific names Common names
Aira bengalensis (Retz.) J.F.Gmel. Bamboo reed (Engl.)
Amphidonax bengalensis (Retz.) Steud. Colorado river reed (Engl.)
Amphidonax bifaria Nees ex Steud. Elephant grass (Engl.)
Arundo aegyptia Delile Giant cane (Engl.)
Arundo aegyptiaca E.Vilm. Giant reed (Engl.)
Arundo bambusifolia Hook.f. Spanish reed (Engl.)
Arundo bengalensis Retz. Wild cane (Engl.)
Arundo bifaria Retz.  
Arundo coleotricha (Hack.) Honda  
Arundo donax L.  
Arundo glauca Bubani  
Arundo latifollia Salisb.  
Arundo longifolia Salisb. ex Hook.f.  
Arundo sativa Lam.  
Arundo scriptoria L.  
Arundo triflora Roxb.  
Arundo versicolor Mill.  
Donax arundinaceus  P.Beauv.  
Donax bengalensis  (Retz.) P.Beauv.  
Donax bifarius  (Retz.) Trin. ex Spreng.  
Donax donax  (L.) Asch. & Graebn.  
Donax sativus C.Presl  
Donax versicolor  (Mill.) P.Beauv.  
Scolochloa arundinacea  (P.Beauv.) Mert. & W.D.J.Koch  
Scolochloa donax  (L.) Gaudin  
Arundo donax L. is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online
Note: Arundo donax L. has 37 synonyms.

Other vernacular names
AFRIKAANS: Spaanse-riet.
ARABIC: Ghab farsi, Galam, Ghab roomi, Kasab al-reeh, Pos, Qish.
AUSTRALIA: Danubian reed, E-grass, Elephant grass, Oboe reed.
CHILE: Cañamo.
CHINESE: Lu zu, Lu zhu.
COSTA RICA: Caña hueca.
CUBA: Caña de Castilla, Cañ de rio, Caña hueca, Cañita de la india.
FIJI: Ngasau ni vavalangi.
FRENCH: Canne de Provence, Grand roseau, Quenouille, Roseau canne, Roseau des jardins.
GERMAN: Pfahlrohr, Riesenpfahrohr, Rieenschilf, Spanisches roh.
HAITI: Herbe roseau, Roseau.
INDIA: Baranal, Baru, Doka, Nal, Nar, Narhal, Rajal (Hindi); Baalada kaddi, Bilee laalada kaddi, Hulagilu hulu, Hulugilu hulu (Kannada); Ama (Malayalam); Dhamana, Nala, Potagal, Sarah, Sunyamadhya (Sanskrit).
ITALY: Canna commune, Canna di Provenza, Canna domestica, Canna gargana, Canna gentile.
JAPANESE: Danchiku, Yoshitake.
KOREAN: Mul dae.
LAOS: Khem.
MYANMAR: Alokyu.
NETHERLANDS: Pijlriet, Zaairiet.
PAKISTAN: Nar, Nara, Nal.
POLISH: Lasecznica trzcinowata.
PORTUGUESE: Cana palustre, Canno de reino, Caninha, Canamilha, Cana-vieira, Cana de roca.
ROMANIA: Trestie italiana
SPANISH: Caña comun, Caña de Castilla, Canaveral, Cañizo, Carizo, Carrizo, Falso bamboo, Gallipato alcublanco, Junco gigante.
THAILAND: O, O luang, O yai.
TONGA: Kaho, Kaho folalahi.
URUGUAY: Caña musical.
VIETNAM: Say, Lau.

Gen info
- Arundo donax is one of several so-called reed species.
- Etymology: Arundo donax derives from old Latin and Greek names for 'reed'.
- Giant reed is adapted to a wide variety of ecological conditions, but is generally associated with riparian and wetland systems.
- In New Zealand, it is listed under National Pest Plant Accord as an 'unwanted organism." It is among the fastest growing terrestrial plants in the world, nearly 10 cm (3.9 in) per day. Its leaves and stems contain a variety of harmful chemicals, including silica and some alkaloids, which protect it from insect herbivores and deter wildlife from feeding on it. It is also highly adapted to fires, highly flammable throughout the year, especially during drier months. (3)
- Use of Arundo donax dates back to 5,000 BC when Egyptians used its leaves as lining for underground grain storage. It has been said that leaves were used in wrapping mummies. It the 4th century AD, it was cultivated for the production of reeds for musical instruments.

Arundo donax is a perennial, tall, erect grass, with creeping woody rhizomes. Culms erect, up to 5 m high. Leaf-blades conspicuously distichous, linear-lanceolate, rounded or cordate at the base, 30-60 cm long, 2.5-5 cm wide, glabrous, smooth, long-attenuate at the tip. Panicle 30.60 cm long and 5.8(10) cm wide. Spikelets 10-15 mm long; glumes subequal, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, (8-)10-13 mm long, the lower a little shorter than the upper; lemmas lanceolate, (6)8.5-13 mm long, 3-5-nerved, 3 of the nerves produced as short aristae, hairy all over the back below the middle with hairs up to 7 mm long. (Flora of Pakistan)

- Introduced to the Philippines.
- Naturalized.
- Grows primarily in subtropical biome.

- Highly invasive in many countries.

- Constituent studies per 100 g of green roughage yielded zero moisture, 6.9 g protein, 1.3 g fat, 82.6 g total carbohydrate, and 37.5 g fiber. Carbohydrates consisted of rhamnose 0.15%, mannose 0.35 %, arabinose 2.00 %, galactose 0.84 %, xylose 33.88 %, glucose 62.13 %, 4-O-methyl glucuronic acid 0.65%. Arundo donax showed an average of 22% lignin, 42% α-cellulose, and 27% hemi-celluloses. It also contained calcium 0.30-o.67%, phosphorus 0.08-0.15 g, potassium 2.04-3.19%, and Mg 0.20-0.30%. Alkaloids include tryptamine, bufotenidine, gramine, and arundamine. (5)
- Constituent study of rhizomes yielded 23 compounds including sterols and phenylpropanoids: lauric acid (1), 5,6-epoxy-22,24-ergosta -8(14),22-diene-3,7-diol (2), 5,6-epoxy-22,24-ergosta-8(9),22-diene-3,7-diol (3), 5,8-Epidioxy-22,24-ergosta-6,22-dien-3-ol (4), stigmast-4-ene-3,6-dione (5), 6,9-Epoxy-ergosta-7,22-dien-3-ol (6), stigmast-22-en-3,6,9-triol (7), 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenol (8), 2,6-dimethoxy-quinone (9), sinapaldehyde (10), hydroxycinnamic acid (11), β-sitostenone (12), α-asarone (13), 4-DODecylbenzaldehyde (14), β-sitosterol (15), α-spinasterol (16), p-hydroxybenzaldehyde (17), ursolic acid (18), N-acetyltryptamine (19), daucosterol (20), (-)-syringaresinol (21), 1-[11-(ferulyloxy)-undecanoyl)]glycerol (22), N-€-feruloylserotonin (23). (9)
- Study of 70% aqueous ethanol extract of rhizomes yielded a new bis-indole alkaloid, names arundaline (1), a new phenylpropanoid, named arundalcohol (2), and four known alkaloids, N-acetyltryptamine (3), trans-N-(p-coumaroyl)serotonin (4), trans-N-feruloylserotonin (5), and tuberosine B (6). (12)
- Study of rhizomes isolated a new indole alkaloid, donasine. (14)

- Studies have suggested antibacterial, phytoremediative properties.

Parts used
Rhizomes, root leaves, stem.



- Rhizome or rootstock once used for dropsy.
- Root or rhizome boiled in wine with honey used for cancer. Used for condylomata and indurations of the breast. Root infusion used as antigalactagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, hypertensive, sudorific, hemostatic; and used for treatment of toothache, pertussis, and cystitis. (5)
- Crafts: Split young culms used for weaving baskets, mats, trays, lattices and chair-seats. Unsplit culms used as fishing rods, umbrella handles, walking sticks, and fish traps.
- Reeds: Used as reeds in woodwind instruments, such as clarinets, oboes, bassoons, saxophones and bagpipes, for which it is cultivated France and, to a small extent, in the United States.
In the late 1950s, the reported annual production of A. donax cane for the manufacture of reed was estimated at 90-140 t in France and 10 t in the USA, producing 15-20 million and 5-7 million reeds respectively. (4)
- Forage: Young shoots sometimes eaten; grazed by cattle when other fodder is scarce. (4)
- Paper: Fibers showed potential as alternative material to produce cellulose and handmade paper. (see study below) (16)

Potential for Ecological Remediation / Review:
Giant reed is considered one of the most important energy plants due to its huge dry biomass production. It can be used for bioenergy or biopolymer production.  It can replace maize and reduced the production cost of biomass and electricity. Raw material can be used for production of rayon viscose and paper. Its flexibility and strength make potential for manufacture of fishing rods, brass musical instruments, canes and construction supplies. It has also shown potential for ecological remediation. Giant reed is able to decontaminate polluted soils. It can absorb heavy metals, purify the wastewater and decrease the pH of saline soil and make red mud safer. Review presents available evidence for the utilization of giant reed in field of phytoremediation and its potential applications combined with advanced remediation technologies in ecological remediation.(6)
Antibacterial / Rhizomes: Study evaluated
the antimicrobial activities of rhizome extracts of Arundo donax using disc diffusion assay against yeast Candida albicans, gram-positive S. aureus and B. cereus, and gram-negative E. coli. Various extracts of rhizomes inhibited B. subtilis and B. cereus. None of the extract inhibited E. coli and C. albicans. Analysis of compounds showed hexadecanoic acid was the major compound influencing B. subtilis growth, and xanthone affecting B. cereus growth. (7)
Amoxicillin Adsorption / Phytoremediation Potential: Antibiotics are an emerging concern as pharmaceutical contaminants in aquatic environment even at very low concentrations due to adverse effects on humans and animals including acute and chronic toxicity and development of bacterial resistance to antibiotic treatment. Amoxicillin is one of the most used commercial penicillin antibiotic and its existence in wastewater from pharmaceutical industries and hospital effluents is cause of concern. In this study, microwave assisted KOH activation of renewable biomass Arundo donax was adopted for preparation of activated carbon with high capacity for amoxicillin antibiotic (AMX). Thermodynamic analysis showed that adsorption enthalpy of AMX was 17.7 kJ/mol, which revealed endothermic and physisorptive nature under examined conditions. (8)
Antibacterial / Leaves and Roots: Study of methanolic root extract of A. donax exhibited maximum efficacy against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A methanolic leaf extract was highly effective against Staphylococcus aureus. No activity was observed against Bacillus sp. and E. coli. (10)
Phytoremediation / Cadmium / Nickel: Study evaluated the potential of Arundo donax for phytoremediation of cadmium (Cd) from contaminated soil and water. Both Bioaccumulation Factor (BF) and TF values for hydroponics were greater than 1. IC50s for ABTS and DPPH showed both time and increasing Cd concentrations affected the production of antioxidants with lower IC50 on the 21st day. A. donax showed better potential for Cd phytoremediation of aquatic environments. (11) Study evaluated the potential of A. donax in phytoremediation of Ni-contaminated soil. The translocation factor (TF) of greater than 1 categorizes A. donax as a great candidate for nickel phytoremediation. (13) Giant Reed is one of the most used plants as trace element bioaccumulator, especially via phytoremediation processes with capacity to absorb contaminants such as metals that cannot be easily biodegraded. Studies have documented giant reed to efficiently decontaminate soils polluted with Cu, Cd, As, Pb, Ni, high content of salts bauxite-derived red mud. Study reviews scientific literatures and utilization of giant reed biomass feedstock for phytoremediation and other uses. (15)
Potential for Handmade Paper Production / Culms and Leaves: Study evaluated the morphological characteristics and chemicial composition of fibers of leaves and culms from A. donax for an alternative, renewable, low-cost source for cellulose and handmade paper production. Results showed fibers from A. donax are a viable alternative material to produce cellulose and handmade paper and/or can be mixed with other raw materials to produce different types of paper. (16)
Biofuel Potential: Arundo donax is a strong candidate for use as renewable biofuel source due to its fast growth rate and ability to grow in different soil types and climates, with ability to grow up to 25 years without replanting. The biomass calorific mean value of giant reed is about 17 Mj kg-1 dry matter. Studies in the EU have identified A. donax as the most productive and lowest impact of all energy biomass crops. (3)

- Wild-crafted.
- Supplements in the cybermarket.

February 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Giant Reed (Arundo donax) / Forest and Kim Starr / Public Domain / click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Arundo donax / Bouba / CC BY-SA 3.0 / click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration: Arundo donax / Public Domain / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Giant Reed (Arundo donax.) / © Cambridge University Botanic Garden / non-commercial use / click on image to go to source page / Botanic.Cam.Ac.Uk

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Arundo donax (giant reed) / CABI Digital Library

Arundo donax / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Arundo donax / Wikipedia
Arundo donax / PROSEA
THE CONSTITUENTS AND BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ARUNDO DONAX - A REVIEW  / Ali Esmail Al-Snafi  / International Journal of Phytopharmacy Research, 2015; 6(1): pp 34-40 / eISSN: 2249-7544 / pISSN: 2229-7464
The Potential Application of Giant Reed (Arundo donax) in Ecological Remediation / Deng Zhang, Qian Wen Jiang, Dan Yang Liang, Shixun Huang, Jianxiong Liao /  Front. Environ. Sci., 2021; Sec. Toxicology, Pollution and Environment, Vol 9 / DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2021.652367
Phytochemical Compounds in Arundo donax L. Rhizome and Antimicrobial Activities / Kanoktip Pansuksan, Sophida Sukprasert, Netiya Karaket / Pharmacognosy Journal, 2020; 12(2): pp 287-292 /
DOI: 10.5530/pj.2020.12.45
Amoxicillin adsorption on microwave prepared activated carbon from Arundo donax Linn: Isotherms, kinetics, and thermodynamics studies / Marwa A Chayid, Muthanna J Ahmed  /  Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 2015; 3(3): pp 1592-1601 / DOI: 10.1016/j.jece.2015.05.021
Studies On Constituents Of Rhizome Of Arundo Donax L. / QR Liu, J Li, XF Zhao, B Xu, WD Peng, SX Li / Planta Med, 2016;p 82 - PC41 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0036-1578743
EVALUATION OF ANTIBACTERIAL POTENTIAL OF AN INVASIVE GRASS (ARUNDO DONAX L.) IN A LOWER SIWALIK REGION, INDIA / Aakash Sharma, Sarvjeet Singh, Pardeep Kumar, A N Singh / Plant Archives, 2020; 20(2): pp 3580-3584 / eISSN: 2581-6063 / pISSN: 0972-5210
Cadmium Phytoremediation by Arundo donax L. from Contaminated Soil and Water / Maria Sabeen, Qaisar Mahmood, Muhammad Irshad, Iftikhar Fareed, Afsar Khan et al / Toxicology of Metals and Metalloids, Vol 2013; Article ID 324830 / DOI: 10.1155/2013/324830
Alkaloids and phenylpropanoid from Rhizomes of Arundo donax L / Qing-Ru Liu, Juan Li, Xiao-Fang Zhao, Bo Xu, Xing-Hua Xiao, Jie Ren et al / Natural Product Research, 2021; 35(3): pp 465-470 /
DOI: 10.1080/14786419.2019.1638378
Evaluation of the phytoremediation potential of Arundo donax L. for nickel-contaminated soil / Wafa Atma, Mohammed Larouci, Boumedienne Meddah, Kheloufi Benabdeli, Pascal Sonnet /  Internation Journal of Phytoremediation, 2017; 19(4): pp 337-386 / DOI: 10.1080/15226514.2016.122529
A new indole alkaloid from Arundo donax L. / A L Jia, X Q Ding, D L Chen, Z Z Chao, Z Y Liu, R B Chao / Journal of Asian Natural Products, 2008; 10(2): pp 105-109 / DOI: 10.1080/10286020600882452
Giant Reed (Arundo donax L.): A Green Technology for Clean Environment / Tarek Alshaal PhD, Nevien Elhawat, Miklos G Fari et al / Phytoremediation, 2014 / DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-10395-2_2
Characterization of Fibers from Culms and Leaves of Arundo donax L. (Poaceae) for Handmade Paper Production / Loureine Raposo Oliveira Garcez, Cristiane Silva Ferreira et al / Journal of Natural Fibers, 2022; 19(16): pp 12805-12813 / DOI: 10.1080.15440478.2022.2076005

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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