What are reeds (Phragmites) like? To begin with, it is one of the very few plants to be native (not introduced) in all five continents of the world. Imagine working all day with a marvellous sky above and below surrounded by reeds, just a wind-blown rustle and calling birds – an experience not to be forgotten.
What are the uses of reeds and reedbeds? Whole human populations can live in and, in extreme cases, nearly entirely upon the reedbed. Hermits, and to some extent monks and nuns, ventured into reed wetlands so that their prayers would purify and sanctify the haunt of demons (St Guthlac, Beowulf).
In Europe, the struggle for community existence in the hazy band "twixt land and water", is usually won by Phragmites. In the Americas, Australasia, Africa and much of Asia, it is usually won by other reedswamp species.
Is it just a grass; is it war-like? Yes. A silent battlefield where a plant is not "nice" to its neighbour in seeing that "next door" has space to grow, enough light to grow well, enough nutrients and, of course, enough water, just doesn't happen. For the reed it is an intense and continuing, but silent, battle for survival. There is no peace in the reedbed for Phragmites – just the giant struggle for existence.
Different wetland species and how they interact, 25
Reedswamp into open water (historically common), 28
Seasonal patterns, 29
Root toxins and short grass, 29
The Scramblers, 31
Management of reedbeds for some (human) use, 32
Ways to Dominate, 33
Plant factors, 33
Outside factors acting in mixed stands, 34
Reedswamp to Trees, 37
List of Stand-alone Titles in the River Friend Series, 42
About the Authors, 42