European common reed, Phragmites australis
Phragmites australis (P. australis [Cavanilles] Trinius ex Steudel)
- tall perennial grass with stiff stems up to 16 feet tall
- forms dense stands with about 19 steams per square foot both dead and alive. It has
- horizontal stems (Rhizomes), which annually send out stiff vertical shoots that are stiff and have sheath like leaves. The shoots and leaves are stiff and sharp due to high amounts of cellulose and silica.
- The flower stem is about one foot long with many feathery branches. Each individual flower is about 1/2 an inch in length.
- flowersto ½ in. long, stalks hairy.
- feathery, plume-like flower head is 13-40cm long and composed of many long branches that point upwards. Narrow clusters of flowers are arranged densely along the branches.
- The flowers are surrounded by silky white hairs that are purplish at first, becoming tawny to dark brown at maturity.
- Seeds are brown, thin and delicate. A long, narrow bristle is attached to each seed. The seed and bristle together measure approximately 8mm long.
- tends to prefer sunny wetlands and is also found in areas of moist soil in fresh or brackish water marshes. It can be found along riverbanks and lakeshores. It grows in areas of disturbed soil, ditches, roadsides, and other areas of degradation. The only thing limiting its growth is high salinity.
- a prolific seed spreader and soil movement easily deposits its rhizomes, by soil moving equipment, animals, water, or happenstance. Common reed can sprout from rhizomes or seeds and some colonies can be hundreds of acres in size
- leaf bladesalternate along top half of stem, flat, strap-like, smooth, tapering to long tip, to 2 ft. long, to more than 1 in. wide;
- liguleevident, thin;
- inflorescenceconspicuous, large, silvery tan, plume-like, 1 to 2 ½ ft. long, silky, on stem tip, often draping to one side, many ascending branches, ring of hairs at base;
Consequences of invasion
- contributes to the reduction of biodiversity in wetlands is the primary threat.
- Invasive stands of Phragmites can quickly replace other native species such as short grasses, cattails and other native plants. Phragmites also
- affects marsh habitat of birds and fish and can
- create a fire hazard when there is a large amount of dead biomass
Integrated Pest Management Options
- 1) The easiest way to control a portion of the Phragmites problem is to eliminate restrictive flows in saltmarshes, increased salinity from this method kills Phragmites.
- 2) Cutting, mowing or disking can help the problem. If mowing is done too late or early it can actually stimulate growth and make denser stands. This method does contribute to a reduction in fire hazard. Disking is too costly but can work on a small-scale basis.
- 3) Herbicides, while they do work, pose another type of environmental problem killing other grass species and it is also expensive.
- 4) Burning can only work if it is a root burn and burning can actually stimulate growth.
- 4) Covering with plastic after mowing can have good results after a few days because of higher temperatures generated under the plastic. This method is labor intensive.
- 5) A combination of all these methods along with aggressive replanting of other native species is the most effective way to inhibit encroachment by Phragmites.