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Donax cane, Giant reed, Persian reed
Arundo donax is the subtropical plant found in areas of the Mediterranean. It is the only natural source for our bassoon reeds since ages. Scientifically, Arundo donax L. belongs to a tribe of the extensive grass family Gramineae. The grass family (scientific name Poaceae) is one of the most important plant families on earth. Grains such as oats, barley, wheat, rye, rice and corn are important food sources and together with other grasses, fresh or dried, form a complete menu for mankind and animals alike. Sugar cane, also a grass, is a source of suger and bamboo is used for many purposes in tropical and subtropical areas.
Giant reed
The stems reach a diameter of 1 to 4 cm and commonly branch during the second year of growth. These culms are hollow, with walls 2 to 7 mm thick and divided by partitions at the nodes.
The nodes vary in length from 12 to 30 cm. The stem's bark (bassoonists like to refer to them as the "shell") contains silica and is very hard. The smooth and shiny surface turns a light golden yellow as the stem matures.
Giant reed grows rapidly. Growth rates up to 0.7 meters/week over a period of several months under favorable conditions is not unusual. Young culms develop the full diameter of mature canes; further growth involves thickening of the walls. The new growth is soft, very high in moisture and has little wind resistance.
Arundo donax is a native to the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. From this area it has become widely dispersed, mostly through intentional introduction by man, into all of the subtropical and warm temperate areas of the world. Arundo donax is well established in many of these areas. Arundo donax grows abundantly in India, up to 2400 meters above sea level in the Himalayas, and it has spread to the east to Birma and China.
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Arundo donax has also been successfully introduced in South Africa, Australia and in many of the islands in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Arundo donax has been widely planted throughout the warmer areas of the U.S. as an ornamental. It is especially popular in the Southwest where it is used along ditches for erosion control. In areas where growth conditions are ideal, Arundo donax is difficult to suppress. There is an abundance of plants growing along the Rio Grande River, where they are seen as weeds that are difficult to eradicate. Specialised companies concentrate on combating this.
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Due to the size of the areas where Arundo donax can be found, as a result of people's actions, the plant has many names in addition to scientific ones. In the south-western part of the US, the plant is known by its Mexican name Carrizo. In other English speaking countries it is referred to as: Bamboo reed, Danubian reed, Donax cane, Giant reed, Italian reed, Spanish reed, or Provence cane. Other names include: Canne de Provence or Roseaux in France, Prahlrohr in Germany, Kalamos in Greece, Calami, Canna, Canna Commune or Canna Domestica in Italy. In Spanish speaking countries the plant is called: Cana Comun, or Canna de Castilla. The Dutch name is: Reuze Riet.
A. donax
Ecologie: A. donax tolerates a wide variety of ecological conditions. It is reported to flourish in all types of soils, from heavy clays to loose sands and gravelly soils.
Arundo donax tolerates excessive saltiness and survives long periods of drought or extreme rainfall. The environment where the plant thrives the best is alongside lakes, ditches and rivers. Plants grow best in well-drained soils where abundant moisture is available. Arundo's ability to tolerate or even grow well under conditions of extreme drought is due to the development of coarse, drought- resistant rhizomes and deeply penetrating roots that can reach moisture at depth. Arundo donax can incur a lot of damage due to a lack of water during the first growing season, when its roots have not yet developed, but plants that are 2 to 3 years old handle long periods of drought without any major problems.
Arundo donax is a subtropical plant. I. A. donax can survive very low temperatures when dormant but is subject to serious damage by frosts after the start of spring growth.
The plant does not thrive well in real tropical environments.