Common reed

Sedge Warbler in Common Reed

Sedge Warbler in Common Reed ©Chris Gomersall

Common reed

Scientific name: Phragmites australis
The extensive, golden-brown reedbeds that are formed by stands of Common reed are a familiar sight in our wetlands. They provide an important home for many species, including the rare Bittern.

Species information


Height: up to 4m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Common reed forms extensive, yellow-brown reedbeds in wetlands across the UK. These reedbeds are important habitats for birds, including rare and threatened species like Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tit. Common Reed grows from creeping rhizomes (underground stems) and flowers from August to October.

How to identify

Common reed has tall, hollow, golden stems. It has large, feathery, flower spikes that appear dark purple, but slowly fade to brown as the spikelets (containing the flowers) grow bristles.



Did you know?

Over time, reedbeds of Common reed will naturally be encroached by scrub and succeed to woodland if they are left alone. However, for many years they have been cut and managed to produce reeds for thatching buildings. Continuing this form of management keeps the habitat intact, providing a home for specialist wildlife.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.