Giant reed (Arundo donax L.) is a perennial, herbaceous grass, it has been spread all over the world from continent to tropical conditions by human activities. In continental climate, especially Hungary, it has been considered as ornamental species, due to its decorative appearance, striped variants’ colour of leaves, long growing season and low maintenance requirements. It does not produced viable seeds, so it can be propagated vegetative ways by rhizomes or stem cuttings and by in vitro biotechnology methods. Because of its growth habits and good adaptation capability, it has been considered invasive weed primarily in coastal regions in warmer climate areas. In the previous century, giant reed produced for paper/cellulose/viscose production, woodwind musical instruments, stakes for plants or fishing rods etc. Over the last few decades, it has been produced for bioenergy purposes (bioethanol, biogas, direct combustion) or utilize as chemical basic compounds or construction materials. It has been considered a dedicated promising biomass crops thanks to high biomass production, high energy balance of cultivation and adaptability of different kind of soils and conditions. The objective of the present paper is to overview the most significance literature data on giant reed production and utilization, compare to own experimental data and economic calculations and to determine some critical factors, advantages and disadvantages of giant reed production compare to other biomass species.
Giant reed (Arundo donax L.) is a perennial rhizomatous herbaceous plant, it has been widespread all over the world by human activities. It is a 2-8 meter high, polyploid, sterile species (not produce viable seeds), it can be propagated only by vegetative methods (rhizomes, stem cuttings, in vitro biotechnological methods). It has considered promising dedicated energy crop thanks to high biomass production (20-40 dry tons per hectare depending on microclimate), adaptability of different kind of soils and environment and low energy input required for its cultivation. It has been utilized for energetic purposes, biogas/bioethanol production, cellulose/paper production and ornamental purposes. The objectives of the present study were to determine morphological properties of new ornamental giant reed leaf variants originated from somatic embryogenesis and to evaluate their photosynthetic pigment content and photosynthetic activities. The most typical changes was the appearance of different colour (white, yellow, light green) longitudinal stripes on leaves (also on petiole and on leaf blade). It was significant differences (p<0.05) between green and leaf variants in case of photosynthetic pigments content and photosynthetic activity (Fv/Fm value). There was no detectable chlorophyll a or b content in the white bands of leaves and albino shoots. Total chlorophyll content of the white striped leaf variety was more than twice than the light green leaves. Photosynthetic activity and content of photosynthetic pigments also confirm and determine the morphological characteristics and growth habit of leaf variants.