This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Tall perennial reed-like grasses, with broad flat leaf-blades and ample panicles. Spikelets 3-several-flowered, the first flower often staminate, the others perfect; rachilla articulated between the flowering scales, long-pilose. Two lower scales empty, unequal, membranous, lanceolate, acute, shorter than the spikelet; the third scale empty or subtending a staminate flower; flowering scales glabrous, narrow, long-acuminate, much exceeding the short palets. Stamens 3. Styles distinct, short. Stigmas plumose. Grain free, loosely enclosed in the scale and palet. [Greek, referring to its hedge-like growth along ditches.]
Three known species, the following of the north temperate zone, one in Asia, the third in South America. Type species: Arundo Phragmites L.
Arundo Phragmites L. Sp. PI. 81. 1753.
Phragmites Phragmites Karst. Deutsch. Fl. 379. 1880-83.
Culms 5°-i5° tall, erect, stout, from long horizontal rootstocks, smooth and glabrous. Sheaths overlapping, loose; ligule a ring of very short hairs; blades 6'-1° long or more, 1/3'-2' wide, flat, smooth, glabrous; panicle 6'-1° long or more, ample; spikelets crowded on the ascending branches; first scale 1-nerved, half to two-thirds as long as the 3-nerved second one; flowering scales s"-6" long, 3-nerved, long-acuminate, equalling the hairs of the rachilla
In swamps and wet places nearly throughout the United States, extending north to Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia. Also in Europe and Asia. Rarely ripening seed. Pole-, Bog- or Dutch-reed. Spires. Bennels. Wild Broom-corn. Aug.-Oct.