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Phragmites australis


This tall, coarse grass grows to 3.5 meters tall and has gray-green leaves about 4 centimeters wide. It has large masses of brown flower branches in early summer. These rarely produce grain and become fluffy, gray masses late in the season.

Habitat and Distribution

Look for reed in any open, wet area, especially one that has been disturbed through dredging. Reed is found throughout the temperate regions of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Edible Parts

All parts of the plant are edible raw or cooked in any season. Harvest the stems as they emerge from the soil and boil them. You can also harvest them just before they produce flowers, then dry and beat them into flour. You can also dig up and boil the underground stems, but they are often tough. Seeds are edible raw or boiled, but they are rarely found.

Steve's notes:

Some authors say you can boil the mashed stems down to create a sugary syrup (but it didn't work when we tried it).

The stems have been used for arrows, for small game, but they are weak.

The roots can be roasted and eaten.

One thing that makes reed grass a useful as a survival food, is that it can be seen and identified from a long distance.


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Reed