Should you happen to take a walk some day in Sauvebonne valley, near Hyères in the Var, you might be surprised to discover one of the most beautiful plantations of musical reeds in the world.

This plantation was founded by the Donati family, specialists in musical reed cane for over 80 years, for the production of reeds used in clarinets, saxophones, oboes and bassoons.

The Var department produces the finest reeds in the world for these instruments, thanks to the exceptional vibratory qualities of its reed canes, strengthened by the continual swaying of their stems in the Mistral wind and Provencal sun.


In 1932, Italian immigrant Honorat Donati set up a workshop in Carqueiranne in the Var producing reed and wicker baskets used for sending cut flowers to markets in Paris, Berlin, London, and other cities in France and Europe.

At the time, this was the only form of packaging possible for the transportation of bouquets of flowers under suitable storage conditions, due to the very long travel times involved. Carqueiranne was the leading production centre for cut flowers in France. Reed cane has the unique feature, thanks to its capillary capacity, to keep flowers fresh for an extended period.

In parallel, Honorat Donati would gradually develop a speciality inherent in Var reed: the selection of certain canes for the production of reeds used in musical instruments such as clarinets, saxophones, oboes, bassoons and English horns, demand for which was soon to grow thanks to the advent of jazz and the development of classical music all over the world.

Until the mid-1980s, the reed came from a selection of “wild” Var cane plants.

In 1985, the Donati family invested in 15 hectares of plantations located in Sauvebonne valley. Today, almost 30 hectares of plantations, divided across plots of land with diverse geological and climatic conditions, produce the musical reed Arundo donax for the Donati brand, used by the world’s greatest musicians.

  • The Arundo donax reed which we cultivate grows on land located between Toulon and Fréjus in the Var department. Within this region, along this coastal belt of approximately 60 km running fifteen or so kilometres inland, there are micro-climates and soils favourable either to reed cane for the clarinet and saxophone, or reed cane for the oboe and English horn. This chemistry is essential, combined with our experience and know-how.

    The Donati family owns and cultivates plantations situated within this short coastal fringe, with our flagship plantation of some 15 hectares being located in Sauvebonne valley, now nicknamed the “valley of the reeds”. Other plantations are based on the plain of Hyères, closer to the sea.

  • The reed canes are cut during the winter, while the plant is dormant. Our cutters clean up the plantation by eliminating small specimens and leaving year-old stems of good diameter in the ground; these will be selected and cut the following winter.

    Traditionally, we perform our cuttings with reference to lunar cycles, experience having shown their importance for wood preservation and vibratory qualities.

    This is an initial selection: our cutters are able to take the best stems from the plantation, later eliminating any which may show a defect. Our cutters are highly motivated to find good reed cane, knowing that the best musical reeds will come from these stems.

    Almost as soon as they are cut, the reed canes are tied together in packages of 20 stems, grouped in bundles which are aired in ventilation corridors. At this stage, the reeds still retain their leaves and branches. This pre-drying stage must be performed slowly, until the scraping process begins in May.

  • Scraping is an operation which involves removing the branches and leaves. The reeds are cut to 1.80 m from the base, since only this section has the required diameter and sufficient thickness for musical use.

    The “upper cane” is never used: it is ground and composted.

    From June to mid-August, the stems (also known as “batons”) are exposed to the sun around their entire circumference for a final drying, until a golden hue is obtained.

    Occasionally, the bark of these reed canes shows a darker colouring, a chestnut hue. This is a natural colour which in no way affects the internal structure of the reed.

    The Mistral, the dry and regular wind which blows through our region, enables continuous drying until stabilisation of the reed has been achieved.

  • The stems are then stored in ventilated porches.

    Hygrometric exchanges take place during storage: the reed begins to perform its function as a hydric captor and restorer.

    Musicians know that this capillary capacity is essential to use of the reed.

  • After several months of storage, the reed cane is ready to be sawn into tubes (“cannons”) and sorted. The selector’s experience is vital.

    Alexandre Donati Junior is the specialist for this key stage.

    As well as diameter and thickness measurements, the selector adapts the sorting process according to the individual demands of each customer, notably considering the origin of the cane (the plantation), the year of cutting, and taking account of the colour and texture of the tubes.

  • After an order is placed and confirmed, preparation time varies from 15 days to 2 months depending on the quantities requested and available stocks.




  • Clarinette

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    Francaise Min. 24 Min. 3 Min. 8,1
    Allemande Min. 24 Min. 3 Min. 8,1
    Basse Min. 30 Min. 3,7 Min. 8,1
  • Saxophone

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    Alto Mib Min. 27 Min. 3,5 Min. 8,4
    Ténor Sib Min. 29 Min. 3,7 Min. 8,4
    Baryton Min. 30 Min. 3,8 Min. 8,4
  • Basson

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    Français 24 – 27 / Min. 15
    Fagott 23 – 25 / Min. 15
    Contre basson 27mm / Min. 16
  • Hautbois

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    / 9 – 9.5 / /
    / 9.5 – 10 / /
    / 10 – 10.5 / /
    / 10.5 – 11 / /
    / 11 – 11.5 / /
    Baroque 13 to 15 / /
  • Cor anglais

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    / 11.5 – 12 / /
    / 12 – 12.5 / /
    / 12.5 – 13 / /
  • Bassons gougés

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    Bourdon ténor 7.5 – 8.5 / /
    Bourdon bass 9 – 11 / /
    Chanter 24 – 27 / /
  • Cornemuse

    Diamètre Epaisseur Longueur (mm)
    Bourdon ténor 7.5 – 8.5 / /
    Bourdon bass 9 – 11 / /
    Chanter 24 – 27 / /

Arundo donax de Donati souhaite mettre à disposition du public des documents traitant du roseau à musique : histoire, méthodes de culture, diverses utilisations au cours des siècles, études scientifiques, ouvrages et bibliographies.

Nous espérons que ces informations pourront apporter aux musiciens un éclairage nouveau sur les propriétés remarquables de cette plante tant en musique qu’en d’autres domaines.


● Un peu d’histoire agronomique de la canne de Provence Voir / Télécharger

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Feel free to contact us, and we will be pleased to respond to you as quickly as possible.

Arundo donax de Donati SARL
Chemin des Cavaliers Nord

Tél : +33
Fax : +33

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