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Invasive Phragmites Threatens Wetlands, Wildlife
By Lois Wolfson, Ph.D
Excerpt from Michigan Chapter NALMS, July 2011 Lake Effect


It’s in wetlands, along highways, encroaching on your lake and often seen in low wet areas. It’s called the common reed, and in Michigan there are two varieties of the perennial grass, one native and one not. It’s the latter one, an invasive, non-native species, which has been causing major problems. Many people however refer to this plant more by its scientific name, Phragmites australis. Phragmites is a very aggressive plant and outcompetes nearby vegetation. It readily colonizes wet and disturbed soils and forms monoculture stands. It reduces habitats for a variety of animals, and blocks the view from a shoreline by growing to heights up of 15-20 feet. The native type usually reaches about 6.5 feet, and is much less dense.

As with many invasive non-native species, eradication of Phragmites is not likely once it successfully invades an area. However, with proper control methods and annual maintenance, native plant populations can be reestablished, wildlife and wetland habitat improved, and recreation opportunities restored.

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Invasive Plant Species can Enhance Coastal Ecosystems - Invasive plant species can be a source of valuable ecosystem functions where native coastal habitats such as salt marshes and oyster reefs have severely declined.


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