Fight the Phragmites

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Winter is one of my favorite times of the year. There’s something so beautiful about crisp, fallen snow; the low sun can hit it just right to where the glitter can’t help but grab your attention. While walking through Magee Marsh, this Phragmites caught my eye. The sun, outlining it in silver, made it look majestic, even though it really isn’t.

Common Reed or Phragmites (Phragmites australis) is listed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife as one of the top ten invasive plants in Ohio. The Ohio Invasive Plants Council describes Phragmites as having a dense network of rhizomes, a continuously growing horizontal underground stem capable of producing the shoot and root system of a new plant. Phragmites can take over a marsh community, crowding out native plants, changing marsh hydrology, altering wildlife habitat, and increasing fire potential. Its tall stems and dense growth pattern block light to other plants and its rhizomes spread rapidly across the soil surface, creating a monoculture stand.

The Ohio Invasive Plants Council suggests cutting, pulling, or mowing can be done in late July for several years. Prescribed burning after the plant has flowered, either alone or in combination with herbicide treatment, may be effective. Burning after herbicide treatment reduces standing dead stem and litter biomass which may help to encourage germination of native plants in the following growing season. Plants should not be burned in the spring or summer before flowering as this may stimulate growth.

It can feed on fire. Savage.

The marsh systems are imperative to a clean lake. The native plants can act as a kidney to filter out nutrients that cause algal blooms. Marshes are making a comeback, but we, as good environmental stewards, can always do more.

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