Arundo bengalensis Retz.; Donax arundinaceus Beauv. Notes (Giant Reed):

A reed shaken with the wind.

Matthew 11:7 (KJV)

Many scholars have identified this as the reed of the Bible, while Zohary has instead picked the very similar Phragmites communis, which see, from four species of reed in Israel with long root-stocks and tall stems, hollow and jointed, entirely covered with large leaves, each ending in tassels of flowers. But Zohary admits to a "collective" colloquial concept of reeds much broader than the taxonomist's narrower concepts (ZOH). Presenting us with some interesting information on Arundo donax, as well as several common names, the USDA's R.E. Perdue (now retired) also noted that many of these common names are applied to both Arundo and Phragmites. With no voucher specimens, who knows what was really in the hands or minds of early biblical writers and fisherfolk? Various authors state that both the names and uses are almost interchangeable. (But only Arundo of these seems to contain the rather dangerous compound bufotenine.) What follows is some of what I wrote in 1985, hoping that it accrues to Arundo. Although believed by Egyptians to be a Syrian introduction, Arundo apparently is rare or absent as a truly wild plant or seedling. It is cultivated along water courses, but usually above the water level. Even around big lakes, it seems to be exclusively propagated by root divisions, usually by fishermen. Stems serve as support for vines and similar climbing plants, and for making trellises and the like for climbing cultivated plants. In Egypt, the reeds are also used for fencing and roofing. Reeds are also used as measuring rods, walking sticks, arrow shafts, fishing poles, musical instruments (e.g., clarinets and bagpipes in Europe), baskets, and mats. Romans used such reeds for pens. It makes good-quality paper, and Italians use it in manufacturing rayon (BIB).

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