Invasive Phragmites

Quick Summary – What are Invasive Phragmites? (Phragmites australis subsp. australis)

Georgian Bay is home to some of the Canada's most pristine coastal wetlands. Many creatures and organisms depend on these wetlands for life-sustaining activities like food and foraging, nurseries, spawning, shade, and shelter. Invasive Phragmites is a significant threat in Ontario and we are particularly concerned about its effects on the health of Georgian Bay's coastal wetlands.

2020 - was our 8th year helping communities around Georgian Bay fight invasive Phragmites. By training and sharing information with well over 30 communities and partners, 266 stands have now been eradicated and are in monitoring. See the 2020 report.

Join us as a volunteer this summer for what promises to be the GBF's biggest Phragbusting effort on Georgian Bay to date. Learn about this invasive plant (see sidebar), volunteer for a cut, and/or contact Brooke Harrison at (905) 880-4945 x 6 to join an organized cut.

  • Very successful invasive grass/plant (reed from Europe) that spreads easily and out competes native plants
  • Although typically thought of as marshy, this plant thrives in many conditions (even harsh) and has no natural controls
  • Nutrient bully, disperses chemical from roots that harm other plants
  • Frequently grows densely and develops into LARGE Mono-Dominant stands where it is an impossible habitat for the survival of many native species – virtual ‘Dead Zones’.
  • Can grow in excess of 15 ft. high blocking views, access ways to waterfronts, and creating municipal visual hazards
  • Seeds and stolons are easily distributed by wind (10 km radius), flowing water, and through human interaction usually from moving heavy equipment.
  • Spread is rapid and facilitated by road construction where you often see stands of Phragmites in culverts and ditches
  • In Ontario, it is illegal to import, deposit, release, breed/grow, buy, sell, lease or trade invasive Phragmites (Phragmites australis subsp. australis). More info at
  • Difficult, but not impossible to stop. The more we leave it, the more difficult and expensive the clean-up of the invasive Phragmites will become.

Phragmites in Georgian Bay:

Funding and assistance for the 2020 Georgian Bay Forever project, Phragmites Eradication for the Health of our Water and Wetlands, was provided by Canada Summer Jobs, Township of Georgian Bay, Tay Township , The Township of The Archipelago, the Honey Harbour and Cognashene Cottagers Associations, and our many individual donors. We send our sincerest thanks to all for their investment in this initiative.

Sources for this page:
1. Ontario Phragmites Working Group. Smart Practices for Controlling Invasive Phragmites in Ontario’s Roadside Ditches. Published by OPWG , 2013. 2. Moos, Rob. The Georgian Bay Association: Phragmites Fact Sheet. The Georgian Bay Association, April 25, 2015.
3. Summary taken from content in Heather Sargeant’s blog written before joining GBF which referenced above WoodsBayPhragFighterBlog