Micro-Season: “The First Reeds Grow” (2023)

We have entered the micro-season of “The First Reeds Grow.” This is the first micro-season of the mini-season of Grain Rain. All the micro-seasons within Grain Rain are:

  • The First Reeds Grow (Apr 20 – Apr 24)
  • The Frost Stops the Rice Grows (Apr 25 – Apr 29)
  • The Tree Peony Flowers (Apr 30 – May 04)

The micro-seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. While they are specific to Japan, they can be useful to people all over the world. No matter where you live, you can use these seasons as a starting point for your own exploration of the natural world.

To celebrate this season, we will learn a little about reeds and then read seasonal haiku by Basho, Issa, Buson, and Reichhold. 

In this season, our awareness is drawn to the greening of the landscape.  “Reeds” is a common name for many grass-like plants that grow in wetlands and begin to emerge from the earth adding a bit of color to the landscape.  All reeds are members of the taxonomic plant order Poales.  Other plants in the order of Poales include grasses, sedges, and plants in the Bromeliaceae family. Spanish Moss and Pineapples are part of the Bromeliaceae family.

Reeds Of Different Families

A variety of plants have the “reed” in their name.  Although they are called reeds, they fall into one of four different plant families: grasses, sedges, Typhaceae, and Restionaceae. 


The Reeds that fall within the grass family, scientific name Poaceae, are the Common Reed (Phragmites australis), Giant reed (Arundo donax), Burma reed (Neyraudia reynaudiana), Reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima), and Small-reed (Calamagrostis species).  

The Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is the most common variety of reed.  These plants prefer brackish water and can grow to about 16 feet tall.


Papyrus or Paper Reed (Cyperus papyrus) is native to Africa and can grow up to eight feet tall.  The stems of this plant were used to create papyrus paper.(4)

One of the ways you can tell a sedge from grass is that sedges have triangular stems and are solid.  Stems of grasses are round.  The saying “sedges have edges” can help you remember this fact. 


Bur-reed and Reed-mace are the two plants in the Typhaceae family that are known as “reeds”. Plants in this family are also called cattails.  Bur-reed is the common name for the plants in the Sparganium genus and Reed-mace refers to many of the plants in the Typha genus. 


Thatching Reed (Thamnochortus insignis) and Cape Thatching Reed (Elegia tectorum) are the two plants within the Restionaceae family that are identified as “reeds”.  Restionaceae, also known as restiads, are native to the southern hemisphere.

Seasonal Haiku

The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words as selected by Kenkichi Yamamoto provide us with many potential kigo that would fit into this season.  Directly related to reeds there are “reed sprouts” and “reed ears”.  “Reed Ears” is described as the open seed clusters of reeds. 

Other similar kigo are “waterweeds grows”, “sprouting grasses”, “spring grasses”, “young grasses” and “sprouts”.  In  Jane Reichhold’s  A Dictionary of Haiku, we can also find “grass-new” and “green” as related kigo.

With this in mind, let’s read some haiku


spring rain
mugwort grows taller
in a grassy lane
(translated by Jane Reichhold
planting a banana tree
more than ever I hate
sprouting reeds
(translated by Jane Reichhold

Alternative translation

having planted the basho, 
now I despise them: 
the reed sprouts. 
(translated by David Landis Barnhill

The poet that we now know as Basho was born Matsuo Kinsaku.  Matsuo Kinsaku assumed the name Basho in his 20s when he was given the gift of a basho tree, or banana tree, by one of his students.(5) 


Coming back -- 
So many pathways 
Through the spring grass. 
(unknown translator)
Amidst young grass 
Forgetful of its root 
A willow tree. 
(translated by William R. Nelson & Takafumi )


take a look
at the fresh-sprouted grass...
flitting firefly
(translated by David G. Lanoue)
spring breeze--
let the grass also
drink sake!
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

Jane Reichhold

new grass
echoing from yard to yard
lawn mowers
spirit dwelling
holes in rocks
sprouting green

A Haiku Invitation

This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that references sprouting plants

Share your haiku in the comments below, or post on your own page and link back to this post. I can’t wait to read what you write!  


  1. “Reed (plant)”; Wikipedia
  2. “Poales”; Wikipedia
  3. “Bromeliaceae”; Wikipedia 
  4. “Cyperus papyrus”; Missouri Botanical Garden
  5. “Basho”; Poetry Foundation

 Basho’s haiku was retrieved from Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations. Buson’s haiku was retrieved from “Haiku of Yosa Buson Organized by Rōmaji, in alphabetical order; translated into English, French, Spanish” Terebess Asia Online (TAO). Issa’s haiku was retrieved from David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com.  Jane Reichhold’s Haiku retrieved from A Dictionary of Haiku


52 thoughts on “Micro-Season: “The First Reeds Grow” (2023)

Add yours

  1. I need to seek the reeds along the lagoon today! I’ve seen tulip blades and daffodils in bloom, but I hadn’t thought of reeds before. Of course grass blades are ubiquitous, so I dug up this haiku from a couple years ago.

    greens finally spring
    poking up through old dead leaves
    —geese devour the sprouts—

    1. HI Mary Jo, Isn’t it amazing that grasses and other plant sprouts poke through dead, dried leaves! In my mind, I would think they would just push the leaves aside. But sometimes they just go right through.. Amazing. Thanks for sharing your work!

    2. Ah, yes the geese love to tear up the grass anywhere they can find it. A neibhbor a few yards over actually had some geese lay eggs in a wood debris pile! But I saw gosslings already!

      Years ago we had a small band of nasty grey geese – I’m not sure where or if someone else relocated them.

      1. Fiction is always good even when related to nature, a memory clear or distant. One English teacher I had promoted; ‘Write about what you know.” 😀

  2. thanks so much for all this! maybe not grasses, but things that sprout:

    a tiny red leaf!
    bouganvillea please don’t die
    after the cold snap

    1. Hi Kathy, Thanks for joining the conversation. I had to look up Bouganvillea. I was not immediately familiar with them, but now think I may have seen them as house plants. Beautiful plants! Thanks again for writing and sharing. Have a good weekend!

      1. Thanks so much, Mark. This is wonderful blog! So much great info, and so many great haiku from everyone. That haiku by Buson is one of my absolute favorites. I love seeing classic haiku in different translations.

  3. Great blog post, Mark. Your weekly posts teach me so much.

    freshly mown grass…
    she looks ahead published on Haiku Dialogue, 4/22/20
    to summer
    ~Nancy Brady, 2020

    papyrus reeds sprout…
    a kingfisher bends
    one of its reeds
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023

    greening lawn…
    violets peek
    through the grass
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023


    1. Hi Nancy, The Kingfisher is superb! I am also enjoying the “freshly mown grass” for its use of simple, succinct, and suggestive language. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some nice spring weather this weekend.

      1. Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your kind words. Yes, we are having some decent spring weather. From picking asparagus from our patch, putting in a flagpole, and adding some children’s books to the LFL at the park as we dodge the intermittent rain are just some of the events of our weekend.

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