Water reed has been used as a thatching material in the UK for centuries. It is also the primary thatching material in Europe. The Latin name is Phragmites Australis but this thatching material is more commonly known as Water Reed, Continental Water Reed or Norfolk Reed.

This material is, therefore, the same plant but grown in different places. Continental Water Reed may come from places such as Austria, China, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Turkey, or Ukraine.  All places where there are reed beds around rivers are sources of water reed. Irrelevant of where it comes from there is always variance in the material from length to diameter and also amount of tapering. All these factors affect which bundles of material are used on the roof.   It will, therefore, be down to the skill of the thatcher in using the appropriate material for each individual roof. The lifespan of the roof also depends on the production of the material and its characteristics e.g. size, the hardness of stem etc.

Norfolk Reed is primarily produced in Norfolk for use in and around Norfolk. Cost of production and limitations on the amount available are a factor in price and availability. It is unfortunate that there is not enough water reed produced in this country to meet most thatchers needs.