We use a regional comparison of Phragmites australis (common reed) subsp. americanus, P. australis subsp. berlandieri and introduced P. australis (possibly five sublineages) in the Chesapeake Bay, the St Lawrence River, Utah and the Gulf Coast to inform a North American perspective on P. australis invasion patterns, drivers, impacts and research needs. Our regional assessments reveal substantial diversity within and between the three main lineages of P. australis in terms of mode of reproduction and the types of environment occupied. For introduced P. australis, the timing of introduction also differed between the regions. Nevertheless, a common finding in these regions reinforces the notion that introduced P. australis is opportunistic and thrives in disturbed habitats. Thus, we expect to see substantial expansion of introduced P. australis with increasing anthropogenic disturbances in each of these regions. Although there have been some studies documenting the negative impacts of introduced P. australis, it also plays a beneficial role in some regions, and in some cases, the purported negative impacts are unproven. There is also a broader need to clarify the genetic and ecological relationships between the different introduced sublineages observed in North America, and their relative competitive ability and potential for admixture. This may be done through regional studies that use similar methodologies and share results to uncover common patterns and processes. To our knowledge, such studies have not been performed on P. australis in spite of the broad attention given to this species. Such research could advance theoretical knowledge on biological invasion by helping to determine the extent to which the patterns observed can be generalized or are sublineage specific or region specific. Given what appears to be sometimes idiosyncratic invasion patterns when interpreted in isolation in the regions that we analysed, it may be time to consider initiatives on a continental (if not intercontinental) scale to tackle unresolved issues about P. australis.