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Fighting Against Phragmites

If you have driven down a highway in North America edged by a large patch of tall, fluffy grass, chances are you have just spotted Phragmites australis. Phragmites, an invasive non-native wetland grass also known as phrag or common reed, can outcompete native plants.

Phragmites was introduced to the east coast of the U.S. in the late 18th century and has since spread throughout the country. It is a tall plant in the grass family that’s commonly found in ditches, wetland areas, and other wet habitats. It can grow up to 15 feet tall and has a 6-inch to 1-foot flowerhead with a large number of seeds.

When in bloom, phragmites has a wispy and fluffy look. It can grow in large monocultures resulting in many acres of coverage.

Phragmites is a highly competitive species. Its rootstalks can grow 15 feet or more away from the plant and because of its height, it will shade out any surrounding plants including groundcover and sapling trees.

There are a variety of methods to mitigate the growth and spread of phragmites, such as mowing, burning and herbicide treatment. Davey Resource Group (DRG) experts, licensed herbicide applicators, typically focus on herbicide treatment for phragmites control which ensures the treatment permanently remedies the infestation. In the Midwest, treatment is most effective between July and August when the plant is flowering. DRG experts can recommend the correct herbicide treatment and any necessary follow-up management activities based on the client’s conditions.

Davey Resource Group has successfully managed phragmites for a variety of clients, including projects at Walnut Beach in Ashtabula, Ohio, and Mentor Marsh in Mentor, Ohio. For help controlling phragmites in your area, reach out to your regional DRG environmental consulting team. 

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