Since the 1950s, water reed (Phragmites australis) has also been used extensively on British roofs.
The water reed used today is nearly all grown outside England. Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine and France are common sources. Water reed from Norfolk, where most native water reed is grown in managed reed beds, is occasionally used.
The use of water reed, which is commonly fitted directly on to a new timber roof structure is more angular in appearance than combed wheat reed. It can be difficult for a non-thatcher to tell the difference between water reed fitted this way and combed wheat reed. There are subtle differences in colour and overall shape because water reed has longer, stiffer stems than wheat straw.A well thatched water reed roof can last up to 50 years.