Giant reed (Arundo donax)

Also known as: elephant grass

Giant reed is a tall perennial grass up to 8m, growing in large cane-like clumps along river banks, wetlands and roadsides.

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How does this weed affect you?

Giant reed, also known as elephant grass, grows quickly and is difficult to remove once established. The large dense stands outcompete native plants and reduce food and habitat for native animals.

What does it look like?

Giant reed is a tall, clumping, perennial grass up to 8 m high. The leaves are up to 7 cm wide and have a ribbed sheath. It has showy, silky seedheads (up to 60 centimetres long).  Flowering is in spring and summer.

Where is it found?

Giant reed has been found in many parts of NSW from along the coast to the Western region. Most plants have been found in urban areas especially around the Greater Sydney region. 

Giant reed is native to India, Europe, Asia and Madagascar. 

It usually grows along river banks, wetlands, roadsides and wastelands, It has been cultivated in parks and gardens.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Giant reed during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2024)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

How does it spread?

Giant reed produces seeds which are spread by wind or water. It can also sprout from rhizomes and small fragments of rhizomes.  Rhizomes can be spread in garden waste, contaminated soil or by flowing water.

More information

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Control

By hand

Young plants in small infestations may be dug out. Remove all of the roots and rhizomes.

By machine

Larger stands may be removed by bulldozer or tractor. All rhuzomes must be removed or they will resprout. 

Chemical control

Spraying

Spray actively growing plants.

Cut stump

Cut the stems close to the ground then apply herbicide to the cut stem within 15 seconds. 

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL per 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 1.5 parts of water
Comments: Cut stump application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Central Tablelands
An exclusion zone is established for Blayney Council, Lithgow Council, Oberon Council, Cabonne and Orange City Council areas. A core infestation area is established for Bathurst Regional Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and Cowra Shire Council.
Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Containment)
Within exclusion zone: Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. A person should not deal with the plant, where dealings include but are not limited to buying, selling, growing, moving, carrying or releasing the plant. Within core infestation area: Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
Central West Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Eradication)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. A person should not deal with the plant, where dealings include but are not limited to buying, selling, growing, moving, carrying or releasing the plant. Notify local control authority if found.
Greater Sydney Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Asset Protection)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment.
Hunter Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Asset Protection)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
North Coast
Exclusion (eradication) zone: Lord Howe Island, Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA. Core infestation (containment) zone: Ballina Shire LGA, Bellingen Shire LGA, Byron Shire LGA, Clarence Valley LGA, Coffs Harbour City LGA, Kempsey Shire LGA, Kyogle Shire LGA, Lismore City LGA, Nambucca Valley LGA, Richmond Valley LGA, Tweed Shire LGA.
Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Containment)
Whole of region: Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Exclusion zone: Notify local control authority if found. Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. Core infestation: Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
Western
An exclusion zone is established for all lands in the Western Local Land Services region, except the core infestation area, which comprises all lands within the Wentworth Shire Council.
Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Containment)
Whole of region: Land managers mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Within exclusion zone: Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. A person should not deal with the plant, where dealings include but are not limited to buying, selling, growing, moving, carrying or releasing the plant. Notify local control authority if found. Within core infestation: Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2024