Found in the wetlands across the world, water reeds, scientifically known as Phragmites Australis, are broad-leafed grass with a length of about 1.5 to 5 metres. They have smooth stems and clusters of feathery flowers at the top of them. Originally used as thatching materials in the UK, India, and other parts of the world, water reeds are now used to produce several essential items. 

Water reeds are grown along the margins of lakes, streams, and marshy areas from the Arctic to the tropics. In Egypt, these stems are dried to use as fishing poles. Here, fences and cattle pens are also created out from the reeds. In the Philippines, the reeds are used to make household brooms, which they call ‘walis tambo’. In the Netherlands, Germany, and England, people use the dried stems for constructing thatched roofs.

Giant reed, sea reed, blue joint, bur-reed, reed canary grass, and reed mace are some of the other plants of the family of Poaceae.

The Types and Application

  • Kauna Grass: Mostly found in the wetlands of Imphal, Cyperaceae, commonly known as Kauna grass, acts as the raw material for weaving local baskets. Usually, the Kauna grass is cultivated along with paddy and once they grow to a height of around 6 feet, they are cut at their full length. The drying process is quite lengthy as they need to be completely dried before weaving to prevent mould. Often the baskets are sold in their natural colour and at times, are dyed in various bright hues.
    The inner portion of the grass has a soft and spongy texture. A spongier texture will produce a better quality product. Other products made from Kauna grass are bags, mats, shoes, and so on.

  • Sabai Grass: Sabai grass is found in abundance in various districts of West Bengal, such as Jhargram, Purulia, and Bankura, and is crafted into aesthetic home décor and utility products. Once they are reaped and dried, they are hand twisted and arranged into bundles. They are then rubbed against the trunks of the trees to smoothen out the rough edges.
    The craftsmen also add vibrant colours by dyeing them with natural vegetable dyes or Azo-free dyes. Handbags, Banjara bags, candle holders, and bath accessories are a few products that are crafted out from Sabai grass. This forms a major occupation, not only for the men of the region but also for the women, making them self-reliant and empowered.

  • Sikki GrassCrafted to form various handicraft items, Sikki grass is cultivated and grown in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, India. The southern plains of Nepal also witness the production of beautiful Sikki grass items, especially the traditional woven baskets which are crafted by the Tharu women. After harvesting, Sikki is dried and the fine golden fibre that is yielded is used in weaving dolls, toys, and baskets (commonly known as dolchi).

  • Moonj Grass: Belonging to the family of Gramineae, Moonj grass has medicinal value. It is found near the riverbanks of India, in arid areas. The fibre is extracted for crafting baskets, mats, thatched roofs of the huts, hand fans, brooms, and twisted for making ropes. The white flowers that it bears are used for ornamental purposes.

  • Sambu Grass: Grown in various parts of India, Sambu is a tropical grass mainly recognized for its therapeutic and air filtering features. They are bio-degradable, eco-friendly, and reusable and hence, help in upholding a sustainable lifestyle.
    India’s remarkably professional artisans engage in weaving mats out of the grass fibres. Their brilliant absorbent property helps to soak in sweats, which make them perfect as yoga mats. The soft interior aids in providing natural cushioning to the user.

  • Darbha Grass: Mostly used in rituals and is identified as an eco-friendly food preservative, Darbha grass, also termed as Kusha grass, is also employed by skilled Indian artisans in making floor mats, which is generally used by the sages and priests while performing meditations or chanting mantras. The Kusha grass mats are believed to drive away negative forces.

  • Korai Grass: Korai grass is grown in Tamil Nadu, especially in the Karur district. With a length of 3-4 feet, Korai grass exhibits a flexible and silky texture. This feature makes the grass ideal for crafting sleeping mats, table mat runners, baskets, and a variety of other decor and utility items.
    Highly skilled artisans are engaged with the responsibility of hand twisting the water-soaked grasses. It is necessary to bind the rope-like structures tightly in order to yield a well-finished final product.
    Baskets and mats are such products that are made from Korai grass. To eliminate fungus, surface treatments, such as smoking, are highly suggested.

  • Sea Grass: Also labeled as ‘ecosystem engineers’, sea grass is popularly grown around the coastal regions of India and China. They are woven into carpets, baskets, rugs, and a variety of other home décor items and make an affordable choice. They can also be crafted and used as a natural floor covering.
    Imbued with the qualities of being non-absorbent, and stain-resistant, one can effortlessly brush away the dirt. The fibres extracted from sea grass also take part in the making of upholstery, and other textiles.

  • Cane: Part of the rattan plant, cane is produced by peeling off the skin of the rattan vine. The lesser the porosity of the cane, the greater is its quality. Owing to its pliable nature, canes are ideally used in the manufacture of chair seats and other such furniture.
    Besides being eco-friendly, cane products are lightweight and inexpensive, which makes them easily accessible to all kinds of people. Cane furniture is often layered with materials such as solid hardwood, steel, or aluminium frames to render an appealing look and sturdy structure.

  • Rattan: Grown and cultivated in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australasia, Rattan is a naturally renewable palm. The fibre extracted from it, is used for fashioning furniture, handicrafts, and other building materials.
    To date, the versatility of Rattan makes it an invaluable part of rural people’s livelihoods, especially in the parts of South and Southeast Asia.

Water Reed Products vs Plastic Products

Water reed products are green resources and are absolutely biodegradable which, when discarded, gets mixed with the Earth without leaving any environmental impact. On the contrary, plastic products have clogged up the ecosystem for years and would continue to cause severe and hazardous impacts to our surroundings, polluting the land, water, and air. 

 With the current developments, water reed products are found to be 100% eco-friendly and offer a wide range of benefits and solutions to meet our modern requirements. Green resources have formed a wonderful alternative to plastic products and most importantly, they benefit our lives, lifestyles, and the environment.


Picture Source: Ziveli