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Updated on November 15, 2010

Phragmites - An Invasive Species That Threatens The Wetlands and Shorelines Of America

Phragmites is a tall growing European grass that is growing invasively in the American ecosystem. Once it starts to grow, it is extremely hard to get rid of. This is due to the deep and strong roots system that grows from this invasive species.

Phragmites is especially dangerous for the great lakes area as they grow in wetlands and on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. It will take over an entire ecosystem and can potentially kill off the animals and other plant life of the area.

invasive phragmites
invasive phragmites

Michigan DEQ Warns About Phragmites

Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites

Phragmites australis (frag-MY-teez), also known as common reed, is a perennial, wetland grass that can grow to 15 feet in height. While Phragmites australis is native to MIchigan, an invasive, non-native, variety of phragmites is becoming widespread and is threatening the ecological health of wetlands and the Great Lakes coastal shoreline. Invasive phragmites creates tall, dense stands which degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals, blocking shoreline views, reducing access for swimming, fishing, and hunting and can create fire hazards from dry plant material.

Phragmites can be controlled using an integrated pest management approach which includes an initial herbicide treatment followed by mechanical removal (e.g., cutting, mowing) and annual maintenance. For large areas with dense stands of phragmites, prescribed burning used after herbicide treatment can provide additional control and ecological benefits over mechanical removal. Early detection is key to preventing large dense stands and is also more cost efficient.

Read more about their suggestions on what you can do to fight this problem.

Videos on The Invasive Species, Phragmites

Were you aware of this problematic invasive species?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have seen this plant at my family's lakes for 20 years now. It has improved fish habitat by reducing siltation in areas where other native plants cannot get established. Since its introduction, the spawning beds have only increased in these areas. Phragmites is only in these areas that are highly erodable shorelines. Here it grows fast and often is consumed by muskrats. It has not established in areas were sedges and lake iris's are found. Many insects are attracted to the aphids that feed on the high sugar leaves. As a result there are a lot of different bees I will see flying in and out. I have seen Viceroy butterlies feed on the flowering heads. If someone were to give me a large grant maybe I could find all sorts of benefits including the recent scientific findings of removal of toxic sediments by phragmites. Of course all I know is anecdotal evidence.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I hadn't heard about this one. We have a problem here with japanese knotweed though. We need to keep on guard.

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 

      8 years ago from PA

      I've never heard of this. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting, I hadnt heard of this; I wonder if it's a threat to our South Texas coastal wetlands. Thanks for a super-informative page!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      Wow had never even heard of Phragmites though locally now they're promoting not hauling any wood from one place to the next. It's amazing how something seemingly so harmless can cause so much trouble.

    • MisterJeremy profile image


      8 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Nope, I wasn't. And when you said in the lens intro that they were tall, I didn't realize how tall they were until the second photo. I can see how they'd hog all the sunlight. Blessed.


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