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Various large perennial rhizomatous grasses have been considered for energy crops because they produce cheap lignocellulosic biomass and they have good adaptability to a wide range of environments and climates from temperate to tropical. This review focuses of giant reed (Arundo donax) although its congeneric and more distant relatives such as broom grass (Thysanolaena latifolia) and caña brava (Gynerium sagittatum) are also briefly described. Giant reed is a low maintenance, very high yielding multipurpose crop providing biomass for energy, fiber, pulp and other raw materials. The highest multiyear biomass accumulation in natural stands is 400.0 tonnes of dry matter per hectare and highest sustainable annual yield reaches 63 odt ha−1 year−1 in warm temperate and can be even higher in tropical regions. It is not suffering from pests and maintains high yields without nitrogen fertilization, but it does benefit from fertilization at the expense of energy output/input ratio. Its cultivation has a positive energy balance and compares favorably to other biomass crops, including C4 species, because of its exceptionally high water utilization efficiency and high photosynthetic activity at high temperature despite its C3 anatomy. The high yields, adaptability to high water, salinity and nutrient inputs, and tolerance to pollutants, allow phytoremediation applications combined with biomass production. There is absolutely no seed production therefore the spreading is limited to mechanical dispersal; its potential invasiveness reputation originated from human error (planting near waterways for erosion control). With proper agrotechnology and buffer zones large scale cultivation is possible with minimal danger to the environment. Rhizome or cane cutting-based propagation is available; however, it is best propagated by micropropagation.

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