Family • Poaceae - Phragmites vulgaris (Lam.) Trin. - COMMON REED - Lu gen

Scientific names

Arundo vulgaris Lam.
Arundo phragmites Linn.
Arundo tecta Blanco
Arundo donax Llanos
Phragmites vulgaris (Lam.) Trin.
Phragmites communis Trin.
Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.
Arundo madagascariensis F.-Vill.
Neyraudia madagascariensis Merr.

Common names

Bagang (Bis.)
Bugang (C. Bis.)
Lupi (BGik.)
Tabunak (Bis., P. Bis.)
Tagisi (Ibn.)
Tambo (Tag.)
Tangbo (C. Bis.)
Tanobong (Pang., Ilk.)
Tantanubong (Ibn.)
Tanubong (Ilk.)
Uba-uba (Sul.)
Common reed (Engl.)
Lu gen (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

FRENCH: Roseau commun.
GERMAN: Schilf, Schilfrohr.
SPANISH: Carrizo comun.

Tambo is a coarse, erect grass growing to a height of 1.5 to 3.5 meters. Stems are cylindrical and hollow, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Leaves are flat and linear, up to 50 centimeters long, 2.5 centimeters wide. Panicles are large, terminal, plume-like, somewhat nodding, 30 to 50 centimeters long, brownish, dense, very many-flowered, with slender branches. Spikelets are linear, and about 1 centimeter long.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Phragmites australis / Plants For A Future

(2) Chemical and pharmacological study of Phragmites communis Trin. / Tsitsa-Tzardi E, Skaltsa-Diamantidis et al / Ann Pharm Fr. 1990;48(4):185-91.

(3) Phytoremediation of pharmaceuticals–preliminary study. / Kotyza J, Soudek P, Kafka Z, Vanĕk T. / Int J Phytoremediation. 2010 Mar;12(3):306-16. doi: 10.1080/15226510903563900.

(4) Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. / Common Reed / Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished. / Purdue University – New Crops

(5) Phragmites australis (grass) / Common names / Global Invasive Species Database

– Widely distributed in the Philippines at low and medium altitudes.
– Locally abundant in shallow swamps and muddy streams.
– Often gregarious, occupying considerable areas.
– Cultivated for commercial use.
– Occurs in warm countries throughout the world.

– Root has 5% protein; 1% fat;; 51% carbohydrate; 1.54% ash and 0.1% asparigin.
– Per 100 g, reed yields 415 calories, 20.6 g protein, 2.1 g fat, 72.7 g total carbohydrate, 31.9 g fiber, 14.6 g ash, 480 mg Ca, 70 mg P, and 130 mg Mg.
– Leaves yield 17.1 g protein, 63.7 g total carbohydrate, 27.4 g fiber, and 15.7 g sh.
– Stems yield 4.8 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 90.0 g total carbohydrate, 41.2 g fiber, and 4.4 g ash.
– Fresh herb reported to yield vitamin A, C, B1 and B2, triterpene ß-amyrin, taraxerol.
– Yields triterpenes, vitamins A and B, ascorbic acid.
– Secretes a phytotoxin, gallic acid, which on ultraviolet light photo-degradation, causes higher mortality of susceptible seedlings, that gives it a competitive edge in their habitats.



– Considered , antiasthmatic, antidote, antiemetic, diaphoretic, diuretic, lithotriptic, sialagogue, stomachic, sudorific.
– Roots considered cooling and diuretic.

Parts utilized
Roots, leaves

Edibility / Nutrition
-Edible parts: Leaves, roots, seed, stem.
– Young shoots may be eaten raw or cooked and eaten like labong (bamboo sprouts).
– Unfolded leaves used as potherb.
– In Japan, young shoots are eaten, cooked like asparagus or bamboo sprouts. Also, grounded dry young leaves, mixed with cereal flour in making dumplings.
– Sugary gum from the stem can be rolled into balls and eaten as sweets.
– Powder extracted from dried stems can be moistened and roasted like marshmallow.
– Stems can boiled

– The roots and sprouts are cooling and diuretic.
– In China, tender sprouts and rhizomes used medicinally. Reed rhizome used for cancer.
– Reported folk medicine for condylomata, indurated breast, breast cancer, leukemia.
– Used for abscesses, arthritis, bronchitis, cough, cholera, gout fever, hiccups, rheumatism.
– Ash of leaves used for foul sores.
– Leaves used in treatment of bronchitis and cholera.
– Root is used as antiasthmatic, antiemetic antitussive, febrifuge, sedative, sialagogue, and stomachic.
– Decoction of flowers used for cholera and food poisoning.
– Mixed with gypsum for halitosis and toothache.

– Brooms: In the Philippines, dust brooms are made from the panicles.
– Firewood: The hardy stems are used as firewood.
– Roofing: Where bamboo is not available, used for roofing ribs.
– Culms used for pen handles.
– Paper: Makes first-class paper, but difficult to bleach.
– Mouth pieces for musical instruments (clarinets, etc.)

Study Findings
• Pharmacologic Study: Study of aerial parts of P. communis Trin. was done concerning free amino acids, fatty acids, sterols, tocopherols and polyphenols. Isolated polyphenols were investigated for antibacteriophage properties.
• Phytotoxin / Gallic Acid: – Study on plant invasiveness behavior showed P. australis (common reed) secretes a phytotoxin, gallic acid, which on ultraviolet light photo-degradation, causes higher mortality of susceptible seedlings, that gives it a competitive edge in their habitats.
• Phytoremediation / Gallic Acid: Phytoremediation of selected pharmaceuticals (diclofenac, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen) using Armoracia rusticana and Linum usitatissimum cell cultures and by hydroponically cultivated Lupinus albus, Hordeum vulgaris, and Phragmites australis plants in laboratory conditions was done. Best effectiveness for ibuprofen removal was found with Phragmites.