Projects > Phragmites (Common Reed) Control
In June 2005
York County Soil & Water Conservation District was awarded a grant
through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The Expanding Southern
Maine Community Invasive Plant Control Phase 1 project encompassed developing
an Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM), creating a steering committee,
hosting workshops for ID & control of noxious weeds as well as distribution
of education materials. As part of the second phase of this grant, this
summer the Spruce Creek Association will be working with Joe Anderson
of YCS&WCD in an effort to remove the invasive species phragmites
in the shoreland zone of Spruce Creek to allow native plants to re-establish
themselves on invaded wetlands, restoring the biological viability of
these important ecosystems.
plants are non-native plants that outcompete and overrun native species,
grow rapidly and spread to unmanageable levels in short periods of time.
They change animal habitat by eliminating native foods, altering cover,
and destroying nesting opportunities. Phragmites (or common reed) traps
debris within its stands and can increase the elevation of the marsh surfaces,
which can reduce the frequency of tidal inundation and ultimately alter
the natural ecosystem. We’ve enclosed some hand-outs from YCS&WCD
on invasives and phragmites and encourage you to review them.
project, the Spruce Creek Association will provide volunteer labor under
Joe’s guidance for a couple of hours one day mid- to late-summer
(after the phragmites tassles have appeared) to cut the plants and place
a small amount of Rodeo on each stem. Our volunteers would then return
in the fall (after the first frost) for a second cut to additionally stress
is "phragmites" or "common reed"?
Common reed is a very agressive, robust, densely growing member
of the grass family. Its height and density allow it to form monocultures
or near monocultures that outcompete and overrun most nonwoody native
wetland plants. The buildup of litter from previous years of growth prevents
other species from germinating or establishing. It is capable of occupying
and degrading vast areas of important wetland habitat, growing outward
at a rate of 10 feet per year. It is tolerant of a wide variety of environmental
conditions. Wetlands composed of mixes of naitve plants provide habitat
for more wildlife species than do wetlands overrun by common reed. Common
reed is problematic in both coastal and inland wetland types. In coastal
situations, debris trapped within stands of common reed can increase the
elevation of marsh surfaces, which can reduce the frequency of tidal inundation
and ultimately alter the natural ecosystems.
do you control phragmites?
Phragmites plans are susceptible to extended periods of flooding,
wave action and changes in salinity. Long term tidal flushing is beneficial
in all thse cases, minimizing the influence of fresh water and highter
nitrate levels, both of which aid the plant. Herbicides are effective
in the short term of four to five years; glyphosate, formulated for use
in wetlands, should be applied after the plants form their fluffy flower
clusters, when the plants are sending carbohydrates to the rhizomes. These
herbicides can only be applied by a licensed herbicide applicator (such
as the staff at YCS&WCD). Combined cutting, burning, herbicide application
and water management plans can help control the plant by removing old
canes and allowing other vegetation to grow. Plant stands can actually
increate when cut early in the season. For effective management, cut plants
in late summer, in several successive years. Monitoring the spread of
this plant is crucial because of its tendancy to reinvade. Control techniques
may need to be repeated indefinitely.
Creek Phragmites Stands
We have identified nine stands of phragmites in the Spruce
Creek Watershed. We'd like to thank the land owners who've given us
permission to participate in the YCS&WCD grant program for the next
two years to monitor the progress, including the Town of Kittery, Shepards
Cove, the Faith Baptist Church and several other residents.
Can You Help?
If you spot a site with phragmites growing, please let us know
and we'll contact the land owners to see if the site might be included
in future program. You can pretty much spot the reed any time of year
- in fall/winter the dead stalks remain with their tassles, and in the
spring and summer the new reeds grow up among them. If you've found
a location, note it down and let us know.
You can also view more information on this grant and other invasive
terrestrial plants at the York
County Soil & Water Conservation District website.
must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF file. If you don't already
have Adobe Acrobat, you can download
Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.