This is a very large and robust, patch-forming, grass with bamboo-like stems, and is strong enough to withstand the Mistral. We originally confused it with the Johnson Grass, but were put right by one of our readers. It's the tallest grass in the region, growing to 6 m high according to our books, or 4 m high according to our reader (probably more accurate).
The giant reed grows across Provence, often in long, thick hedgerows. In the Var and the Vaucluse, you'll see it growing along the edges of the vineyards. In the Bouches-de-Rhône, especially in the Camargue, it provides a nice windbreak, along with bamboo thickets, for the rice paddies and grain fields.
Leaves. Grey-green, rough and tough, about 60 mm wide.
Habitat. Damp places, ditches, river and stream margins, dune depressions. Often planted as wind shelters, and used for basket making and shade roofs.
These photos were taken along the edges of fields and vineyards in the Vaucluse.