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.
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)
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)
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!
- “Reed (plant)”; Wikipedia
- “Poales”; Wikipedia
- “Bromeliaceae”; Wikipedia
- “Cyperus papyrus”; Missouri Botanical Garden
- “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
Thanks Mark for another interesting post and writing challenge. Happy Sprouting Plants Day My Friend.
Hi Goff, Well done on the haiku for this week! Thanks for your continued support!
Pleasure My Friend. Enjoy your day.
Reblogged this on Art, Music, Photography, Poetry and Quotations.
Great post Mark and I can’t believe it – I’m early for once, here is my Haiku, have a great weekend 😊
Such a joyful image!
Thank you ❤️
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—
such great imagery Mary Jo 💕
Thank you very much!
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!
It is truly amazing. Little green spears climbing right on up and through detritus to the light. 🙂
Nicely written, Mary Jo. I often dig up older haiku to post. ~nan
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.
Hi Mark. Here is my response to this week’s reference prompt – ‘Sprouting Plants’.
Happy Friday everyone.
Hi Goff, Thanks so much for sharing! I hope you are have nice spring weather this weekend!
Cheers. Rain, rain and more rain!
in the pond
a puppy chasing
Just a bit of fun today!
Hi Eavonka, This one is wonderful! Would you be okay if I used this one for one an upcoming Instagram posts? It is such a fun haiku!
I will be honored, and I’ll even consider it published! 🎉
Thank you! I’ll post to IG early next week. Thanks again!
I love this…it just makes me sprout smiles!
Yay! Happy Earth Day to you, my friend!
To you as well. Happy Earth Day! Remember to Skip the straw. The sea turtle you save will thank you.
Many years ago I had reed grass in my yard. I’d like to get some ‘cat-tails’ down by the creek… but I’m not sure where I would put them.
Here’s my pairs; First Reeds
Hi Jules, Another fine collection of pairs. I didn’t expect to read about atlatls this morning!
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.” 😀
Such a hopeful season, Mark. Green revives us all, I think. My contribution:
front lawn quickly disappears
vanquished by bunnies
Hi Tracy, Thanks for adding this! That sound like a lot of bunnies!
I hope you have a good weekend.
Nice ‘ku, but those are some bunnies! 😉
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
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!
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.
Nicely done, Kathy.
the outfield walls slowly
Hi Sue, A baseball haiku! Another sure sign of spring. Thanks for sharing this!
Great blog post, Mark. Your weekly posts teach me so much.
freshly mown grass…
she looks ahead published on Haiku Dialogue, 4/22/20
~Nancy Brady, 2020
papyrus reeds sprout…
a kingfisher bends
one of its reeds
~Nancy Brady, 2023
through the grass
~Nancy Brady, 2023
Wonderful image of the Kingfisher in the papyrus reeds!
Thanks, Eavonka. My husband has a photo of it taken when we were on Lake Naivasha in Kenya. It was a unique trip, very eye-opening.
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.
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.
Thanks for sharing.
Hi Eunice, thanks for commenting and I am glad that you enjoyed this one!
You are welcome.