Reed bed

Reed bed

Reed beds are a natural habitat found in floodplains, waterlogged depressions and
estuaries. Reed beds are part of a succession from young reed colonising open water or wet ground through a gradation of increasingly dry ground. As reed beds age, they build up a considerable litter layer which eventually rises above the water level, and ultimately provides opportunities for scrub or woodland invasion. Artificial reed beds are used as a method of removing pollutants from grey water.

Types of reed bed

Reed beds vary in the species they can support, depending on water levels within the wetland system, climate, seasonal variations, and the nutrient status and salinity of the water. Those that normally have 20 cm or more of surface water during the summer are referred to as "reed swamp". These often have high invertebrate and bird species use. Reed beds with water levels at or below the surface during the summer are often more complex botanically and are known as "reed fen". Reeds and similar plants do not generally grow in very acidic water, and so in these situations reed beds are replaced by other vegetation such as poor-fen and bog.

Although common reed is characteristic of reed beds, not all vegetation dominated by this species is reed bed. It also occurs commonly in unmanaged damp grassland and as an understorey in certain types of damp woodland.


Most European reed beds are composed mainly of the large wetland grass common reed ("Phragmites australis"), but also include many other tall monocotyledons adapted to growing in wet conditions – other grasses such as reed sweet-grass ("Glyceria maxima"), Canary reed-grass ("Phalaris arundinacea") and small-reed ("Calamagrostis" species), large sedges (species of "Carex", "Scirpus", "Schoenoplectus", "Cladium" and related genera), yellow flag iris ("Iris pseudacorus"), reed-mace ("bulrush" – "Typha" species), water-plantains ("Alisma" species), and flowering rush ("Butomus umbellatus"). Many dicotyledons also occur, such as water mint ("Mentha aquatica"), gipsywort ("Lycopus europaeus"), skull-cap ("Scutellaria" species), touch-me-not balsam ("Impatiens noli-tangere"), brooklime ("Veronica beccabunga") and water forget-me-nots ("Myotis" species).

Many animals are adapted to living in and around reed-beds. These include mammals such as Eurasian otter, European beaver, water vole, harvest mouse and water shrew, and birds such as Great Bittern, Purple Heron, European Spoonbill, Water Rail (and other rails), Purple Gallinule, Marsh Harrier, various warblers (Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler etc), Bearded Reedling and Reed Bunting.

Uses of reed beds

Constructed wetlands

Constructed wetlands are artificial swamps (sometimes called "reed fields") using reed or other marshland plants to form part of small-scale sewage treatment systems. Water trickling through the reed bed is cleaned by microorganisms living on the root system and in the litter. These utilising the sewage for growth nutrients, resulting in a clean effluent. The process is very similar to aerobic conventional sewage treatment, as the same organisms are used, except that conventional treatment systems require artificial aeration.

Treatment ponds

Treatment ponds are small versions of constructed wetlands which uses reed beds or other marshland plants to form an even smaller water treatment system. Similar to constructed wetlands, water trickling through the reed bed is cleaned by microorganisms living on the root system and in the litter. Treatment ponds are used for eg the water treatment of a single house or a small neighbourhood.

ee also

* Organisms used in water purification
* South Milton Ley

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • reed bed — /ˈrid bɛd/ (say reed bed) noun a bank of soil submerged in water on which reeds grow. Also, reedbed …  

  • reed bed treatment system — noun a method of purifying wastewater by passing it through a constructed wetland with reed beds …  

  • reed bed — noun A place where reeds grow …   Wiktionary

  • reed bed — noun an area of water or marshland dominated by reeds …   English new terms dictionary

  • reed-bed — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Woolhampton Reed Bed — is a 5.77 hectare (14.25 acre) Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Woolhampton in the English county of Berkshire. The site was officially notified in 1985.The site is adjacent to the River Kennet and consists of dense reed …   Wikipedia

  • Reed (plant) — Reed is a generic botanical term used to describe numerous tall, grass like plants of wet places, often forming reed beds, including:;In the Poaceae (grass) family: * Common reed ( Phragmites australis Cav.), the original species named reed *… …   Wikipedia

  • reed — [ rid ] noun 1. ) count or uncount a tall thin plant that grows near water. Its stems can be used to make things. A place where a lot of reeds grow is called a reed bed. a ) only before noun made of reeds: a reed basket 2. ) count a thin piece of …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • reed — UK [riːd] / US [rɪd] noun Word forms reed : singular reed plural reeds 1) a) [countable/uncountable] a tall thin plant that grows near water. Its stems can be used to make things. A place where a lot of reeds grow is called a reed bed. b) [only… …   English dictionary

  • Reed (name) — Reed may be either a surname or given name.Reed as a surnameFamily name name = Reed image size = 50 caption = variations on red pronunciation = meaning = variant of Reid, which refers to reddish or ruddy facial complexion region = language =… …   Wikipedia

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