Overview Phragmites australis, also known as common reed or phragmites, is an invasive perennial grass that has spread rapidly throughout coastal and interior wetlands, riparian corridors, roadside ditches and other disturbed areas within the Great Lakes basin.
There are varieties of phragmites native to the Great Lakes region, but these grow more slowly and less aggressively than the non-native strain thought to have originated in Europe. Since introduction, the non-native strain of phragmites has spread pervasively through the Great Lakes region and other regions of the United States by both natural and human-driven dispersal mechanisms.
Due to its dense growth both above and below ground, phragmites can create stands 10-15 feet in height that effectively crowd and shade out native wetland and coastal species. As native assemblages are replaced by phragmites, species diversity is reduced and wildlife habitat quality is degraded. Dense phragmites stands can even alter the hydrologic regime of invaded wetlands by increasing evaporation and trapping sediment. Economic impacts of invasive phragmites infestations include reductions in property values and revenue loss from impacted recreational activities due to impeded access to coastal areas and restricted views.
Assessment Results: Phragmites Australis in Indiana’s Natural Areas Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Invasive Plant Species Assessment Work Group This assessment analyzes different aspects of phragmites management in Indiana, including: invasion status, ecological impacts of invasion, potential for expansion, difficulty of management, and commercial value.
Clay Township Phragmites Management Plan Clay Township, St. Clair County, Michigan This long-term management plan is an example of actions at the local government level to coordinate and improve management and control of invasive phragmites on private property.
Fighting Invasive Phragmites The Beaver Island Association This website and video tell the story of a phragmites rapid response initiative on Beaver Island, Michigan, located in northern Lake Michigan.
Online factsheet: Phragmites: Common Reed Cornell University, Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program Researchers at Cornell University are investigating potential biological control methods for use in phragmites management. Their website also contains information on a free diagnostic service to assist in distinguishing between native and non-native phragmites.
Phragmites Control Plan U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service This document outlines a management plan for phragmites in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah.
Recommendations: Phragmites Australis in Indiana’s Natural Areas Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Invasive Plant Species Assessment Work Group This assessment analyzes different aspects of phragmites management in Indiana, including: invasion status, ecological impacts of invasion, potential for expansion, difficulty of management, and commercial value. Recommendations are provided to various government entities and stakeholder groups.
Report: Common Reed USDA Forest Service Publication FHTET-2002-04 This report summarizes research into natural insect enemies of phragmites and makes recommendations for future work.
Report: Control of Phragmites in a Michigan Great Lakes Marsh U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS Getsinger, K.D., LS. Nelson, L.A.M. Glomski, E. Kafcas, J. Schafer, S. Kogge, and M. Nurse. 2007. This report presents the results of small- and large-scale invasive phragmites treatment demonstrations, comparing and assessing outcomes from different treatment regimes and providing recommendations.