Aquatic or semi-aquatic perennials, with usually tall culms. Leaf-blades linear to narrowly lanceolate, flat, deciduous; ligule a ring of long or short hairs. Panicles large, dense, profusely branched, silkily hairy, bearded at the bases of the lowest branches. Spikelets 3-11-flowered, the lowest floret male or barren, the following bisexual, the uppermost ± reduced; rhachilla bearded above with long silky hairs; glumes 3-5-nerved; lemmas narrow, rounded or slightly keeled on the back, glabrous; lowest lemma much longer than the glumes, 3-7-nerved, ± persistent; fertile lemmas acuminate, 1-3-nerved; stamens 3, or 2 in the lowest floret.
A cosmopolitan genus of 4 species, 2 of which occur in Pakistan.
The generic name Phragmites is usually ascribed to Trinius since the earlier Phragmites Adans. is considered to be a superfluous name for Saccharum Linn. Adanson obviously thought that Phragmites and Saccharum may have been the same but he did not actually commit them to synonymy. On the other hand, he made it quite clear that Phragmites represents a part of Arundo Linn. (cited as Arundo Scheuz 161), and the grounds for rejecting it as a superfluous name are, at best, tenuous. If it were to be rejected, however, it still cannot be replaced by Phragmites Trin., for three reasons. Firstly, Phragmites Adans. is validly published so Phragmites Trin. becomes an invalid homonym; secondly, Phragmites Trin. is itself a superfluous name based on Gynerium Willd. ex P. Beauv. 1812 (cited as Gynerium Humb.); and thirdly, Phragmites Trin, is predated by Trichoon Roth, an interesting genus based upon a purely imaginary character - the hairs of the type, Arundo karka Retz., are said to arise from the grain instead of from the rhachilla as in Phragmites. The name Trichoon, however, is nomenclaturally sound and is in current usage in North America.