Most nonnative plants that have become naturalized and even invasive were deliberately introduced into their new range—prompting the quip that we have often “invited trouble” by enthusiastically importing species as putative sources of food, fiber, or fuel without assessing their potential damage. Gant reed is a case in point: a large, rapidly growing grass introduced long ago in the United States that has already become a riparian invader in California and Texas. Concern about the ability of giant reed to wreak environmental damage has taken on new urgency as it is now being touted as a potential biofuel feedstock. Ambitious proposals call for creation of huge plantations devoted to the grass's cultivation. Needed is neutral, comprehensive, transparent accounting of the pros and cons (literally, the credits and debits) of the widespread planting of nonnative biofuel candidates, especially giant reed. Otherwise, the United States could embark on plans to introduce giant reed throughout a much larger new range, while simultaneously paying for its removal—obviously conflicted policies.
Nomenclature: Giant reed, Arundo donax L.