GBF 2019 Phrag Report

5 Invasive Phragmites 101 What is invasive Phragmites? Phragmites australis subspecies australis (also known as the European common reed) is an invasive grass that grows into dense monocultures that can grow as high as 5 m. Stands of Phragmites severely impair wetlands, threaten biodiversity, reduce habitat, damage municipal and private property, and impede access to recreational activities. Phragmites has no native predators or competitors making it challenging to control. How can I distinguish the native plant from the invasive? There are differences between the two; some that require experts or having the different plants side by side, which is rare. To find out more about identification and see more pictures, please visit this page on the GBF website: http://bit.ly/IDphrag Some of the more obvious differences can be seen at the base of the stalks in mature stands. Native Phragmites tend to have a red colour at the base, and be smooth. The plants in a native stand are often (but not always) more scattered. Mature stands of invasive Phragmites are very dense, and the bases of the stalks are beige in colour and feel a little rough. Control Methodology 1. Gather the equipment: hand held cutters, natural twine, scissors, heavy soled shoes that can go in the water, gardening gloves, eye protection, a hat, appropriate clothes that can get wet and protect from elements, PFD, 1 or 2 black garbage bags, and friends to help as needed. 2. How to remove invasive Phragmites and timing: • The timing to remove the stalks is between mid-July and mid-August before seed heads emerge. • Cutting: Review safety tips here: http://bit.ly/safetyphrag. If there are seed heads, remove them first and put the heads into a black garbage bag. Leave the closed garbage bag in the sun on your property for 3 weeks so that the seeds are solarized and are not viable. Dispose of the closed garbage bag as normal garbage. To start on the stalks, begin on the outside and work inwards. Cut each stalk underwater as close as safely possible to the sediment level (not just below the surface). You are only removing the stalks and attached leaves - do not try to disturb the roots – they are extensive, and uprooting them will contribute to the spread. Keep watch for floating pieces of Phragmites and gather them up as best you can to prevent spread. • Disposal: Do not leave stalks and debris in or near the water. On your property, find a designated drying spot where cut stalks can decay (best with sunlight). Wrap 20-40 stalks piled end to end in natural twine to prevent them from blowing away. Check the site next year to ensure that nothing has sprouted. It is unlikely, but it is very critical to monitor these sites, and dispatch anything that may grow. • Follow-up: This is a 2-5 year annual process depending on the size of the stand. Each year the Phragmites stand will come back much diminished. Keep vigilant about the site, and the disposal site. The process works, and you will be rewarded with native plants returning and habitat being restored. For more information or training on how to remove invasive Phragmites from shorelines in Georgian Bay, please contact brooke.harrison@gbf.org . Join phragbusters all over Georgian Bay!

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