Also known as Persian reed and bulrush this warm season, clump-forming, perennial grass  is native to the Greater Middle East and  common in Palestine, Syria, and the Sinai peninsula, forming dense thickets along the margins of the Dead Sea.   It is a member of the grass family, Poaceae, that also includes rice, corn, and barley.  In frost free areas the plant may grow 20’ tall and is evergreen but in other areas it turns brown in winter  The cane-like stems are hollow, about one fourth to two inches thick, and are similar to those of bamboo. The gray-green leaves are twelve to twenty-four inches long, about two inches wide, and may be erect or arching. In late summer, plants produce an upright, one to two feet long, feathery cream-colored plume that matures to purplish brown.  Photo Credit Wikipedia

The Hebrew words agmon, agam, and agamim, are usually translated reed or rush and is often thought to be the giant reed (Arundo donax)  but some authorities think other plants like common reed (Phragmites communis), cattail (Typha  latifolia), or paper reed (Papyrus antiquorum) may have been intended.  Giant reed was used by the ancient people for walking-sticks, fishing-rods, measuring rods, pens, and musical pipes, and the Egyptians wrapped their dead in the leaves.

II Kings 18:21 (NKJV)  The Assyrian Rabshakeh presents demoralizing arguments to King Hezekiah concerning his trust in Egypt.

Now look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.”

Job 8:11 (NKJV) Bildad applies the rule of cause and effect to Job’s situation.

“Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? Can the reeds flourish without water?”

Job 40:21 (NKJV) God describes the behemoth.

“He lies under the lotus trees, In a covert of reeds and marsh.”

Isaiah 19:6 (NKJV) The Lord strikes Egypt.

“The rivers will turn foul; The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up; The reeds and rushes will wither.”

Isaiah 42:3 (NKJV) The Lord describes the character of his servant.

“A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.”

Jeremiah 51:32 (NKJV) The consequences of taking Babylon are described.

“The passages are blocked, The reeds they have burned with fire, And the men of war are terrified.”

Ezekiel 29:6 (NKJV)  God describes the consequences of the judgement upon Egypt.

“Then all the inhabitants of Egypt Shall know that I am the Lord, Because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.”

Ezekiel 40:3 (NKJV) The prophet describes the guide that God appointed for him on his trip to the temple complex.

“He [God]took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway.”

Mathew 11:7 (NKJV) Jesus speaks to the multitudes about John in n attempt to assure John and his disciples that He was the Messiah.

“As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?”

Arundo reed grows in full sun to partial shade and tolerates a wide variety of soils including wet and moderately saline ones I in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10. Plants are generally healthy and have no significant pests or diseases.  Propagation is by division.  Plants should be cut down after the first frost.   Because of it rapid growth rate, giant reed has considerable potential for energy production. A variegated form is available that is especially attractive and adds a tropical look to the garden.

The genus name, Arundo, is the Latin word meaning reed.  The specific epithet, donax, is the Greek word meaning reed.

By Karen