Phragmites communis (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Pholiurus incurvus
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Phragmites communis (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Poa bulbosa
Phragmites communis

Phragmites communis Trin.

Local name:

  • Russian: Тростник обыкновенный - trostnik obyknovennyj
  • Uzbek, Turkmen: Kamysh
  • Kazakh: Kamys

Chromosome number: 2n = 36 (Tischler 1942); 2n = 36, 48, 54, 96 (Avdulov 1928); 2n = 48, 96 (Hubbard 1954); 2n = 84 (Tarnavschii 1948; Fedorov 1969).

Description and morphology: Large, perennial, bunchgrass (height sometimes up to 4 m, diameter 1.5–2 m). Strong filamentous root system, superficial. Stem: straight, cylindrical-naked, smooth (1.5 cm thick), leafy to top. Leaves: grey or pale green, densely covered stem with sheaths, linear-lanceolate, flat, rigid, margins sometimes sharp uneven. Panicle large (20– 30 cm long), less often loose; base hairy. Flowers: small, without perianth. Vegetative growth begins end of March–April. Polymorphism.

Reproduction: Vegetative reproduction prevails over sexual. Anemophilous. Flowering: June– August. Fruit maturation: July–September. Fruit: light, carried by wind.

Pastoral importance: Considered a good fodder plant for horses as grazing or hay when green before flowering. Haymaking at 8–9 leaves. Expected yield is about 0.8–1.0 t /ha on temporary salt-marshes (solonchak-alkaline soil) increasing to 4.0 t/ha in the Amu-Darya valley on wet permanent marches. Good growth after trampling or overgrazing. Regrowth until end of autumn. Most important roughage on shores of Caspian and Aral Seas, and also on lakes and rivers. Suitable for silage-making. If infected by smut, dangerous to cattle when consumed green.

Fodder value: Before flowering (% DM): cellulose about 30; protein 8.2. At fruit stage (% DM): cellulose over 40. Young shoots rich in sugar.

Economic interest: Common building material, a raw material for paper and chemical industries. Used also for handicrafts.

Habitat: Hydrophyte. Early colonizer of plant communities in depressions and tugaï vegetation. In south-western Kyzylkum, occurs near springs and chinks. In deserts, found on border with tugaï. Xerophytic form does not flower, only vegetative multiplication with suckers. Quite often grows on salt-marshes (solonchak-alkaline soils) even when covered with salt crust. Grows almost always in pure stands on a high water table or in flooded areas.

Distribution: Cosmopolitan, all Central Asia (Aral and Caspian Seas).