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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

This common reed forms large beds in shallow water; it has round, hollow stems, which typically grow to 2m in height, but may reach 4m (2). These stems grow from a system of stout, creeping rhizomes (3). The flat leaves taper into a point, and are attached to the stem by smooth sheaths, which are loose so that the leaves all point in one direction in the wind (2). The flowers are borne on highly branching purple inflorescences, which measure from 20 to 60cm in length (2). The flowers are grouped into 'spikelets', which are 10-15 mm in length and support 1-6 flowers (2).
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New York State Invasive Species Information

The non-native Phragmites australis, or common reed, can rapidly form dense stands of stems which crowd out or shade native vegetation in inland and estuary wetland areas. Phragmites turns rich habitats into monocultures devoid of the diversity needed to support a thriving ecosystem. Non-native Phragmites can alter habitats by changing marsh hydrology; decreasing salinity in brackish wetlands; changes local topography; increasing fire potential; and outcompeting plants, both above and below ground. These habitat changes threaten the wildlife that depend on those wetland areas for survival.

History

Common reed, Phragmites australis, is in the Poaceae or grass family. There are at least three lineages, or strains, of common reed in the U.S. At least one is native to the U.S. including the one that was most common in New York, P. australis subsp. americanus. Another common reed strain, P. australis var. berlandieri may or may not be native to the U.S. and is found in California, along the Gulf Coast and the southeast. One strain is non-native, and was accidentally introduced from Europe in the late 18th or early 19th century in ship ballast. This non-native strain is now the most common Phragmites found in New York and the northeast. There is no field evidence that the non-native will hybridize with the native Phragmites at this time. This fact sheet focuses on the non-native Phragmites.

Biology

The non-native Phragmites is a perennial grass that can reach over 15 feet in height. It is often found in dense clonal stands made up of living stems and standing dead stems. Stems of the non-native Phragmites are hollow, usually green with yellow nodes during the growing season, and yellow when dry in the winter. Phragmites leaves are blue-green to yellow-green, up to 20 inches long and 1 to 1.5 inches wide at their widest point. They are arranged all along one side of a stem.

In late July and August, Phragmites is in bloom with purple to gold highly branched panicles of flowers. The seeds are grayish and appear fluffy due to the silky hairs that cover each seed. Spread occurs through, rhizomes, stolons and seeds; stolons can grow up to 43 feet from the parent plant.

Root growth below ground is also profuse. Phragmites forms a ticket of roots and rhizomes that can spread 10 or more feet and several feet deep in one growing season.

Each Phragmites plant produces thousands of seeds each year, but seed viability is low, although viability varies from year to year.  New sites are established through seed movement and from rhizome fragments that float down stream or are moved in soil, especially along roadsides.

Large clumps of Phragmites can live for decades, but no part lives for more than 8 years.

There are physiological differences between the native Phragmites and the non-native Phragmites. See the Plant Conservation Alliance Phragmites Fact Sheet comparison table for details. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/phau1.htm#table.

Habitat

The non-native Phragmites occurs throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and in Colorado. In New York, Phragmites is ubiquitous, growing in roadside ditches and swales; tidal and non-tidal wetlands; freshwater and brackish marshes; river, lake and pond edges; and disturbed areas. It tolerates fresh and moderately saline water and prefers full sun.

Management

Due to the similarity of non-native Phragmites and native Phragmites, proper identification of the grass is important before taking management action. Due to Phragmites growth in sensitive habitats, be sure to have a restoration plan in place for the area once Phragmites has been eliminated. Phragmites roots hold onto soil, and clonal colonies trap nutrients and organic matter and add to the organic matter in the soil. After Phragmites colonies are removed the soil may be more prone to erosion.

To control Phragmites a number of tactics may be used, but due to the many variables at each site many suggest that Phragmites management should be “site-specific, goal-specific, and value-driven.” Often multiple tactics are needed to ensure success. The best time to manage Phragmites is in midsummer when it’s releasing pollen. Thorough monitoring and follow up management are necessary to control shoots from surviving rhizomes.

Prevention

Maintain, or plant, vegetation that competes with Phragmites. Jesuit's bark (Iva frutescens), groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia), black rush (Juncus roemerianus), and saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) have been shown to limit Phragmites spread. Also, reducing nutrient loads may restrict the spread of Phragmites.

Mechanical

Repeated mowing may produce short-term results and repeated stem breakage in high-water years has been shown to kill large portions of Phragmites colonies. Hand pulling is not feasible due to the expansive and tough root and rhizome network. Root removal from the soil is not effective as small or broken portions of rhizomes left in the soil can create new plants.

Hydrologic

Manipulating the water level around Phragmites has been shown to decrease populations in some conditions. Consult the Element Stewardship Abstract for Phragmites australis produced by the Nature Conservancy for more information. http://www.invasive.org/gist/esadocs/documnts/phraaus.pdf

Chemical

There are herbicides available for Phragmites control. New colonies, with smaller root and rhizome systems, are easier to control with herbicides. Apply after the plant has flowered, in late summer or early fall. Applications can be foliar, cut stump or injected. Multiple years of treatment may be necessary to eliminate any surviving rhizomes. Specific herbicide guidelines can be found at the National Park Service “Plant Invaders of the Mid-Atlantic States” grasses and sedges control options page: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/control-grassesandsedges.htm. Herbicides applied in wetland areas must be applied by a certified pesticide applicator. Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office, http://www.cce.cornell.edu, for herbicide usage assistance. Always apply pesticides according to the label directions; it’s the law.

Fire

Prescribed burns have been shown effective when conditions are right, and can occur in conjunction with herbicides or water level management. To be successful as a stand-alone tool, burns need to be hot enough to kill rhizomes in the soil. After herbicide treatments, burns can remove standing dead stems to make way for desirable vegetation. Flooding after burns will limit soil air to surviving rhizomes. Burns should be conducted once flowering has occurred. For more information on controlled burns, see the USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System “Phragmites australis Fact Sheet,” Fire Effects section at http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/phraus/all.html#FIRE%20EFFECTS.

  • Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program, Phragmites australis page Cornell University. September 8, 2011. http://www.invasiveplants.net/monitor/9CommonReed.aspx
  • Gucker, Corey L. 2008. Phragmites australis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2011, September 7].
  • Marks, Marianne, Beth Lapin & John Randall 1993. Element Stewardship Abstract for Phragmites australis. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA
  • Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted Fact Sheet, Common Reed, Phragmites australis. Saltonstall, Kristin. September 7, 2011. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/phau1.htm
  • Swearingen, J., B. Slattery, K. Reshetiloff, and S. Zwicker. 2010. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas, 4th ed. National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington, DC. 168pp.
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The non-native Phragmites australis, or common reed, can rapidly form dense stands of stems which crowd out or shade native vegetation in inland and estuary wetland areas. Phragmites turns rich habitats into monocultures devoid of the diversity needed to support a thriving ecosystem. Non-native Phragmites can alter habitats by changing marsh hydrology; decreasing salinity in brackish wetlands; changes local topography; increasing fire potential; and outcompeting plants, both above and below ground. These habitat changes threaten the wildlife that depend on those wetland areas for survival. History Common reed, Phragmites australis, is in the Poaceae or grass family. There are at least three lineages, or strains, of common reed in the U.S. At least one is native to the U.S. including the one that was most common in New York, P. australis subsp. americanus. Another common reed strain, P. australis var. berlandieri may or may not be native to the U.S. and is found in California, along the Gulf Coast and the southeast. One strain is non-native, and was accidentally introduced from Europe in the late 18th or early 19th century in ship ballast. This non-native strain is now the most common Phragmites found in New York and the northeast. There is no field evidence that the non-native will hybridize with the native Phragmites at this time. This fact sheet focuses on the non-native Phragmites. Biology The non-native Phragmites is a perennial grass that can reach over 15 feet in height. It is often found in dense clonal stands made up of living stems and standing dead stems. Stems of the non-native Phragmites are hollow, usually green with yellow nodes during the growing season, and yellow when dry in the winter. Phragmites leaves are blue-green to yellow-green, up to 20 inches long and 1 to 1.5 inches wide at their widest point. They are arranged all along one side of a stem. In late July and August, Phragmites is in bloom with purple to gold highly branched panicles of flowers. The seeds are grayish and appear fluffy due to the silky hairs that cover each seed. Spread occurs through, rhizomes, stolons and seeds; stolons can grow up to 43 feet from the parent plant. Root growth below ground is also profuse. Phragmites forms a ticket of roots and rhizomes that can spread 10 or more feet and several feet deep in one growing season. Each Phragmites plant produces thousands of seeds each year, but seed viability is low, although viability varies from year to year.  New sites are established through seed movement and from rhizome fragments that float down stream or are moved in soil, especially along roadsides. Large clumps of Phragmites can live for decades, but no part lives for more than 8 years. There are physiological differences between the native Phragmites and the non-native Phragmites. See the Plant Conservation Alliance Phragmites Fact Sheet comparison table for details. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/phau1.htm#table. Habitat The non-native Phragmites occurs throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and in Colorado. In New York, Phragmites is ubiquitous, growing in roadside ditches and swales; tidal and non-tidal wetlands; freshwater and brackish marshes; river, lake and pond edges; and disturbed areas. It tolerates fresh and moderately saline water and prefers full sun. Management Due to the similarity of non-native Phragmites and native Phragmites, proper identification of the grass is important before taking management action. Due to Phragmites growth in sensitive habitats, be sure to have a restoration plan in place for the area once Phragmites has been eliminated. Phragmites roots hold onto soil, and clonal colonies trap nutrients and organic matter and add to the organic matter in the soil. After Phragmites colonies are removed the soil may be more prone to erosion. To control Phragmites a number of tactics may be used, but due to the many variables at each site many suggest that Phragmites management should be “site-specific, goal-specific, and value-driven.” Often multiple tactics are needed to ensure success. The best time to manage Phragmites is in midsummer when it’s releasing pollen. Thorough monitoring and follow up management are necessary to control shoots from surviving rhizomes. Prevention Maintain, or plant, vegetation that competes with Phragmites. Jesuit's bark (Iva frutescens), groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia), black rush (Juncus roemerianus), and saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) have been shown to limit Phragmites spread. Also, reducing nutrient loads may restrict the spread of Phragmites. Mechanical Repeated mowing may produce short-term results and repeated stem breakage in high-water years has been shown to kill large portions of Phragmites colonies. Hand pulling is not feasible due to the expansive and tough root and rhizome network. Root removal from the soil is not effective as small or broken portions of rhizomes left in the soil can create new plants. Hydrologic Manipulating the water level around Phragmites has been shown to decrease populations in some conditions. Consult the Element Stewardship Abstract for Phragmites australis produced by the Nature Conservancy for more information. http://www.invasive.org/gist/esadocs/documnts/phraaus.pdf Chemical There are herbicides available for Phragmites control. New colonies, with smaller root and rhizome systems, are easier to control with herbicides. Apply after the plant has flowered, in late summer or early fall. Applications can be foliar, cut stump or injected. Multiple years of treatment may be necessary to eliminate any surviving rhizomes. Specific herbicide guidelines can be found at the National Park Service “Plant Invaders of the Mid-Atlantic States” grasses and sedges control options page: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/control-grassesandsedges.htm. Herbicides applied in wetland areas must be applied by a certified pesticide applicator. Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office, http://www.cce.cornell.edu, for herbicide usage assistance. Always apply pesticides according to the label directions; it’s the law. Fire Prescribed burns have been shown effective when conditions are right, and can occur in conjunction with herbicides or water level management. To be successful as a stand-alone tool, burns need to be hot enough to kill rhizomes in the soil. After herbicide treatments, burns can remove standing dead stems to make way for desirable vegetation. Flooding after burns will limit soil air to surviving rhizomes. Burns should be conducted once flowering has occurred. For more information on controlled burns, see the USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System “Phragmites australis Fact Sheet,” Fire Effects section at http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/phraus/all.html#FIRE%20EFFECTS.
  • Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program, Phragmites australis page Cornell University. September 8, 2011. http://www.invasiveplants.net/monitor/9CommonReed.aspx
  • Gucker, Corey L. 2008. Phragmites australis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2011, September 7].
  • Marks, Marianne, Beth Lapin & John Randall 1993. Element Stewardship Abstract for Phragmites australis. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA
  • Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted Fact Sheet, Common Reed, Phragmites australis. Saltonstall, Kristin. September 7, 2011. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/phau1.htm
  • Swearingen, J., B. Slattery, K. Reshetiloff, and S. Zwicker. 2010. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas, 4th ed. National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington, DC. 168pp.
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History in the United States

Preserved remains of native Phragmites that are 40,000 years old have been found in the southwest indicating that it is a part of the native flora of that region. In coastal areas, preserved rhizome fragments dating back 3000-4000 years have also been found in salt marsh sediments indicating that it is also native to these habitats. Native American uses of Phragmites include use of stems for arrow shafts, musical instruments, ceremonial objects, cigarettes, and both leaves and stems for constructing mats.

Introduced Phragmites is thought to have arrived in North America accidentally, most likely in ballast material in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. It established itself along the Atlantic coast and over the course of the 20th century, spread across the continent. In Europe Phragmites is grown commercially and is used for thatching, fodder for livestock, and cellulose production. It is also declining in parts of Europe which has been of concern to natural resource managers there. Here in the United States it is not used for many purposes.

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Perhaps one of the most unusual way reed was used was for drawing: Vincent van Gogh made his pen drawings using reed stems which were cut to a sharp point. Common reed is the largest and best known grass species in the Netherlands. If you see it growing, you can assume that the soil is damp. It can even tolerate brackish water. Reed has razor sharp leaves, which produce nasty slashes should you run a leaf through your hand. The hollow stems transport air to the plant parts standing under water. Therefore, it is essential not to cut reed below the water line, otherwise the plant will literally drown.
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History in the United States

European forms of Phragmites were probably introduced to North America by accident in ballast material in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Recent research using genetic markers has demonstrated that three separate lineages occur in North America – one endemic and widespread (native), one whose nativity is not certain that occurs across the southern U.S. from California to Florida and into Mexico and Central America (‘Gulf Coast’ type) and one from Europe (introduced invasive), which is the focus of this writing. The European Phragmites first established along the Atlantic coast and then spread across the continent over the course of the 20th century. The native form was historically more widespread, occurring throughout Canada and most of the U.S. except for the Southeast (Texas to Florida and north to North Carolina). It remains fairly widespread in the western U.S.

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Biology

Although the extensive system of rhizomes is perennial, in autumn the leaves of the reeds break away from the sheaths, which hold them in place. The dead reed stem remains in place throughout the winter (3). Reeds are still harvested for use in thatching, especially in the Norfolk Broads. Recently, there has been much interest in the potential of reedbeds as water filters; their spreading, creeping system of roots can remove nitrates and heavy metals from water (5).
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Phragmites australis, known best as the common reed, is considered to be the “most widely distributed angiosperm”, with populations found on every single continent except Antarctica (Reale et al., 2004). It is composed of an intricate rhizome system for nutrient acquisition and a hollow, cane-like shoot aboveground that can grow up to 6 m in height (Mal and Narine, 2004). The plant can survive in both freshwater and brackish wetland habitats that include the littoral zones of rivers and lakes, swamps, bogs, fens, and saltmarshes (Gorai et al., 2010). The plant has very high phenotypic plasticity, allowing populations to adapt to and outcompete other plant species when environmental changes occur, including high salinity, eutrophication, and increased water depth (Clevering, 1998).

P. australis can undergo sexual reproduction through the seeds produced in the panicle, a branched cluster of flowers, located at the end of the shoots (Mal and Narine, 2004). The seed is germinated through pollination of the panicle, but seed viability is negatively affected by maternal genotype, resource limitation, and inbreeding depression (Reale et al., 2004). The more common way that the common reed reproduces is through vegetative growth. In this case, a piece of the rhizome system is either elongated or transplanted into a new area where a new shoot can then grow (Reale et al., 2004).

The species has been affected by die-back syndrome in its native European habitats because of its relatively low genetic diversity in that region (Koppitz, 1999). In North America, the common reed has successfully invaded wetland habitats because its populations are composed of more genetically diverse and aggressive clones (Koppitz, 1999).

Phragmites australis does provide some beneficial roles to the communities in which it lives. It is able to provide animals with protection from predation, stop the erosion of the banks of wetlands, and absorb any sewage and runoff to prevent the nutrients from entering the ocean (Mal and Narine, 2004, Romero et al., 1999). The common reed is detrimental to the environment, though, by leaving behind low nutritional value waste in the form of dead shoots and by being very hard to get rid of once it has invaded (Mal and Narine, 2004). Only extreme measures can be used to remove it from an area, which include frequent cutting of the shoots, prescribed burning of the shoots, or total drainage of the areas with growth (Mal and Narine, 2004).

Gorai, M., M. Ennajah, H. Kemira, and M. Neffati. 2010. Combined effect of NaCl-salinity and hypoxia on growth, photosynthesis, water relations and solute accumulation in Phragmites australis plants. Flora - Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants, 205, 7: 462-470

Koppitz, H. 1999. Analysis of genetic diversity among selected populations of Phragmites australis world-wide. Aquatic Botany 64, 3-4: 209-221

Mal, T. K. and L. Narine. 2003. The biology of Canadian weeds. 129. Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. Cleveland State University, Cleveland

Reale, L., D. Gigante, F. Landucci, R. Venanzoni, and F. Ferranti. 2011. Correlation Between Sexual Reproduction in Phragmites australis and Die-back Syndrome. The International Journal of Plant Reproductive Biology 3, 2: 133-140

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Comprehensive Description

Derivation of specific name

australis: southern
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Description

This native perennial grass is 4-16' tall and unbranched; individual plants are erect or they may lean over with age. The culm is light green or grayish blue, glabrous, and rather stout (up to 15 mm. across); it has small rectangular impressions across its surface. The alternate leaves are abundant along the culm and they are ascending to arching. The leaf blades are up to 2' long and 2" across; they are light green or grayish blue, linear-lanceolate, and glabrous. The upper leaf surface has conspicuous parallel veins. The open leaf sheaths are the same color as the blades and they are glabrous. The ligules have short white hairs. The culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets up to 1½' long and one-half as much across. This panicle is densely branched and its branchlets are ascending or drooping. While the florets are in bloom, the panicle has a silky reddish appearance, although it becomes light tan to dark brown later in the year. Each spikelet is 12-17 mm. (1/2–2/3") long and it has 3-7 florets; the lowest floret is sterile or staminate, while the remaining florets are usually perfect. At the bottom of this spikelet, there is a pair of linear-lanceolate glumes about 6 mm. (¼") long. The lemmas above the glumes are linear in shape and up to 12 mm. (½") long, becoming smaller as they ascend the rachilla (central stalklet of the spikelet). Along the rachilla, there are tufts of long silky hairs. The blooming period occurs during mid- to late summer, lasting about 2-3 weeks for a colony of plants. The florets are wind-pollinated. Upon maturity, the perfect florets are replaced by grains, but the latter are often abortive or sterile. The root system consists of stout rhizomes and coarse fibrous roots. This grass often forms clonal colonies that are sometimes quite large in size.
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Description

 A tall reed with annual cane-like (round and hollow) stems up to 4 m in height, usually ca 2 m but occasionally less than 1m high. Forms beds with an extensive system of perennial rhizomes. Leaf blades are flat, ca 3-45 mm wide, usually 15-30 mm, tapering to long slender points. Leaves arranged alternately. Leaves are attached to the stem by a smooth sheath, bearing prominent wing-like extensions at the leaf base, with a fringe of fine hairs next to the stem. Flowers borne on a very large, many branched inflorescence 20-60 cm in length and usually purple in colour. Flowers arranged in spikelets, 10-15 mm in length, composed of 1-6 flowers. The small branches between the flowers bear conspicuous long, white silky hairs. The spikelet bears unequal sized scales (glumes) at its base. The lower scale (or casing) of the floret is larger than the upper scale. The flower is composed of a hairless ovary, bearing two scales, with 3 pollen bearing stamens, except in the lowest floret which has 1-3 stamens.Phragmites australis is a characteristic tall reed with a large purple inflorescence, however, accurate identification requires an examination of the structure of the inflorescence and flowers (for details see Haslam, 1972; Stace, 1999). The common reed is harvested primarily for use in thatching in Britain but has numerous uses worldwide (Haslam, 1972). Phragmites australis is the dominant species in reedbeds, a UK BAP habitat, and amongst the most important habitat for birds in the UK such as the bittern, the reed bunting and the marsh harrier (Anon, 1995; Hawke & José, 1996).
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Description

Grass Family (Poaceae). Common reed is a warm season, rhizomatous, stoloniferous perennial, native to the U.S. The height ranges from 6 to 12 feet. The leaf blade is flat; smooth; 1/2 to 2 inches wide; and 6 to 18 inches long. The seedhead is an open panicle with a purplish or tawny and flaglike appearance after seed shatter. Common reed is readily identified by its height. It is the tallest grass in southern marshes and swamps.

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Alternative names

giant reed, giant reedgrass, Roseau, roseau cane, yellow cane, cane, Phragmites communis

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Phragmites australis is found on every continent except Antarctica and may have the widest distribution of any flowering plant (Tucker 1990). It is common in and near freshwater, brackish and alkaline wetlands in the temperate zones world-wide. It may also be found in some tropical wetlands but is absent from the Amazon Basin and central Africa. It is widespread in the United states, typically growing in marshes, swamps, fens, and prairie potholes, usually inhabiting the marsh-upland interface where it may form continuous belts (Roman et al. 1984).

Because Phragmites has invaded and formed near-monotypic stands in some North American wetlands only in recent decades there has been some debate as to whether it is indigenous to this continent or not. Convincing evidence that it was here long before European contact is now available from at least two sources. Niering and Warren (1977) found remains of Phragmites in cores of 3000 year old peat from tidal marshes in Connecticut. Identifiable Phragmites remains dating from 600 to 900 A.D. and constituting parts of a twined mat and other woven objects were found during archaeological investigations of Anasazi sites in southwestern Colorado (Kane & Gross 1986; Breternitz et al. 1986).

There is some suspicion that although the species itself is indigenous to North America, new, more invasive genotype(s) were introduced from the Old World (Metzler and Rosza 1987). Hauber et al. (1991) found that invasive Phragmites populations in the Mississippi River Delta differed genetically from a more stable population near New Orleans. They also examined populations elsewhere on the Gulf coast, from extreme southern Texas to the Florida panhandle, and found no genetic differences between those populations and the one near New Orleans (Hauber, pers. comm. 1992). This increased their suspicion that the invasive biotypes were introduced to the Delta from somewhere outside the Gulf relatively recently.

Phragmites is frequently regarded as an aggressive, unwanted invader in the East and Upper Midwest. It has also earned this reputation in the Mississippi River Delta of southern Louisiana, where over the last 50 years, it has displaced species that provided valuable forage for wildlife, particularly migratory waterfowl (Hauber 1991). In other parts of coastal Louisiana, however, it is feared that Phragmites is declining as a result of increasing saltwater intrusion in the brackish marshes it occupies. Phragmites is apparently decreasing in Texas as well due to invasion of its habitat by the alien grass ARUNDO DONAX (Poole, pers. comm. 1985). Similarly, Phragmites is present in the Pacific states but is not regarded as a problem there. In fact, throughout the western U.S. there is some concern over decreases in the species' habitat and losses of populations.

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Range Description

This species has a sub-cosmopolitan distribution; it occurs from north-west Europe south through central and southern Europe to North Africa and south through Southern Africa to the Cape; it also occurs east through Russia and the Middle East to the Far East and south through South-east Asia to Australia, as well as throughout much of Canada south throughout the United States and Mexico as far south as Chile and Argentina. It has apparently been introduced to New Zealand, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Hawaii (The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew 2012).

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More info for the terms: haplotype, marsh, series

Common reed is one of the most widely distributed flowering plants [15,114]. It occurs on every continent except Antarctica [190] and is cosmopolitan in temperate zones [136]. Common reed is widely distributed in North America, occurs in all US states except Alaska, and in all Canadian provinces and territories except Nunavut and Yukon [112]. Common reed is native to Puerto Rico and occurs as a nonnative in Hawaii [73,231]. Grass Manual on the Web provides a map of common reed's North American distribution.

Subspecies, variety, and haplotype distributions: Extensive genetics studies on common reed plant material from modern and herbarium samples (dated to the 1850s) collected throughout North America revealed there are 11 native haplotypes and 1 nonnative haplotype [196]. There were significant changes in common reed haplotype frequencies between historic (herbarium samples collected pre-1910) and modern samples (P<0.001). Introduction of the nonnative haplotype probably occurred at 1 or more Atlantic Coast ports early in the 19th century, and because morphological differences between the haplotypes are subtle, the introduction(s) went unnoticed. Range expansion of the nonnative haplotype was likely facilitated by travel way construction during this time period [195]. The nonnative haplotype is dominant along the Atlantic Coast and in the Great Lakes area. In western North America, the nonnative haplotype is becoming common along roadsides and waterways in urban areas, but native types are still common in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest [196].

P. australis subsp. americanus is native to the United States. Its current range extends from the southwestern Northwest Territories south to southern California, east to northern Texas, northern Arkansas, North Carolina, West Virginia, and north to Newfoundland and Quebec [197].

P. australis var. berlandieri may or may not be native to North America, but if introduced was a much earlier introduction than the nonnative haplotype. The current distribution of P. australis var. berlandieri is not different from historic distributions [196]. Phragmites australis var. berlandieri, also known as the Gulf Coast lineage, occurs along the Gulf Coast of Mexico, in South America, and on the Southern Pacific Islands [195]. In the United States, P. australis var. berlandieri occupies southern habitats from California east to Florida [14,197].

The nonnative common reed haplotype is widely distributed in North America. It occurs from British Columbia east to Quebec and south throughout the contiguous United States [14,197].

Since its introduction, the nonnative haplotype has expanded its range throughout North America and most dramatically along the Atlantic Coast and in the Great Lakes area. The nonnative type replaced native types in New England and established in the southeastern United States, where native common reeds did not occur historically. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, 19th century common reed samples were primarily native haplotypes, but by 1940, all samples were nonnative. Local extinctions of native haplotypes are not uncommon [195]. In Falmouth, Massachusetts, researchers located 268 common reed populations; 4 were native [175]. Native and nonnative common reed populations were mapped for all of Rhode Island; native populations were restricted to the eastern side of Block Island, and the largest stand was about 2 acres (1 ha) [137,139]. On Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland, nonnative common reed is most common, but the average size of nonnative populations is often much smaller than that of native populations [161].

In Quebec, the nonnative haplotype was present as early as 1916 but was rare before the 1970s and restricted to shores of the St Lawrence River. In less than 20 years, the nonnative haplotype became dominant; over 95% of colonies sampled were nonnative [146]. In semiurban landscapes of southern Quebec, the nonnative common reed haplotype was most common in linear wetlands, industrial areas, and rights of way. Intrinsic rates of increase (r) in these areas were determined using a nonlinear growth model that compared clone size at time zero to the clone size years after the initial observation. In St-Bruno-de-Montarville, the intrinsic rate of increase ranged from 0.19 to 0.34/year. On the east tip of Laval Island, the intrinsic rate of increase ranged from 0.19 to 0.54/year. Riparian habitats had less common reed than anthropogenic wetlands. The number of colonization events at rights of way was high. For a discussion on the possible role of colonization by seed, see Seed production [154].

Changes in local distributions: General increases in the area occupied by common reed have been reported in many places; however in some cases, nativity of the population is not identified. Establishment and spread patterns may vary with degree of anthropogenic disturbance, haplotype, salinity levels, and stand age. Additional information is available in the sections on Regeneration Processes and Successional Status.

In a review, Chambers and others [43] found that early reports of common reed abundance described it as "occasional," "not common," or "rare". By the late 1990s, common reed was described as a "widespread" "nuisance species". Increases in common reed abundance in these areas generally coincided with increased human manipulation of coastal areas and wetlands [43]. Aerial photos taken from 1955 to 2000 showed that the area dominated by common reed between 1995 and 1999 increased exponentially on Long Point, southwestern Ontario. Of the 31 common reed stands that were sampled in or after 2000, 90% were nonnative. Researchers suggested that establishment and spread of the nonnative type was the primary reason for increased dominance, and suggested that increased temperatures and decreased water levels in the mid- to late 1990s may have favored increased spread [252].

Local increases in common reed are reported from several areas, although nativity of the populations is unknown. On the Tailhandier Flats on Quebec's St Lawrence River, common reed increased the surface area occupied by 18% from 1980 to 2002 based on aerial photos and remote sensing data [117]. In central Washington, aerial photos of the Winchester Wasteway showed that the area occupied by common reed increased 39 acres (15.8 ha) in 3 years [115]. Researchers compared time series maps to track the establishment and spread of common reed populations in mid-Atlantic coastal areas. Spread rate averaged 10 acres (5 ha)/year. Area occupied by common reed increased rapidly up to 20% per year until stands covered 50% to 80% of a given marsh. Patchiness was common soon after establishment but decreased over time. Common reed abundance decreased at only one site, Lang Tract, Delaware, and decreases were temporary. In southwestern Louisiana's Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, the size and number of common reed clones increased over time after its introduction in 1968. Estimated intrinsic rates of increase of 21 common reed clones ranged from 0.0767 to 0.2312/year. Lag time between establishment and rapid expansion was 10 to 15 years [212].

  • 14. Barkworth, Mary E.; Capels, Kathleen M.; Long, Sandy; Anderton, Laurel K.; Piep, Michael B., eds. 2007. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 24: Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. New York: Oxford University Press. 911 p. Available online: http://herbarium.usu.edu/webmanual/. [68092]
  • 15. Barkworth, Mary E.; Capels, Kathleen M.; Long, Sandy; Piep, Michael B., eds. 2003. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 25: Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. New York: Oxford University Press. 783 p. Available online: http://herbarium.usu.edu/webmanual/. [68091]
  • 43. Chambers, Randolph M.; Meyerson, Laura A.; Saltonstall, Kristin. 1999. Expansion of Phragmites australis into tidal wetlands of North America. Aquatic Botany. 64(3-4): 261-273. [68779]
  • 73. Francis, John K. 2004. Phragmites australis. In: Francis, John K., ed. Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: thamnic descriptions: volume 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. IITF-GTR-26. San Juan, PR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry; Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 555-557. [52217]
  • 112. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 114. Holm, LeRoy G.; Plocknett, Donald L.; Pancho, Juan V.; Herberger, James P. 1977. The world's worst weeds: distribution and biology. Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawaii. 609 p. [20702]
  • 115. Holroyd, Edmond W., III; Eberts, Debra. 2000. Aerial documentation of effective biocontrol of purple loosestrife at Winchester Wasteway, Washington. In: Interntional conference on riparian ecology and management in multi-land use watersheds: Proceedings, American Water Resources Association's 2000 summer specialty conference; 2000 August 28-31; Portland, OR. Technical Publication Series No. TPS 00-2. Middleburg, VA: American Water Resources Association: 35-40. [37557]
  • 117. Hudon, Christiane; Gagnon, Pierre; Jean, Martin. 2005. Hydrological factors controlling the spread of common reed (Phragmites australis) in the St. Lawrence River (Quebec, Canada). EcoScience. 12(3): 347-357. [68767]
  • 136. Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p. [13798]
  • 137. Lambert, Adam M.; Casagrande, Richard A. 2006. Distribution of native and exotic Phragmites australis in Rhode Island. Northeastern Naturalist. 13(4): 551-560. [68763]
  • 139. Lambert, Adam Matthew. 2005. Native and exotic Phragmites australis in Rhode Island: distribution and differential resistance to insect herbivores. Kingston, RI: University of Rhode Island. 106 p. Dissertation. [68799]
  • 146. Lelong, Benjamin; Lavoie, Claude; Jodoin, Yvon; Belzile, Francois. 2007. Expansion pathways of the exotic common reed (Phragmites australis): a historical and genetic analysis. Diversity and Distributions. 13(4): 430-437. [68758]
  • 154. Maheu-Giroux, Mathieu; de Blois, Sylvie. 2007. Landscape ecology of Phragmites australis invasion in networks of linear wetlands. Landscape Ecology. 22(2): 285-301. [68764]
  • 161. Meadows, Robert E.; Saltonstall, Kristin. 2007. Distribution of native and introduced Phragmites australis in freshwater and oligohaline tidal marshes of the Delmarva Peninsula and southern New Jersey. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 134(1): 99-107. [68742]
  • 175. Payne, Richard E.; Blossey, Bernd. 2007. Presence and abundance of native and introduced Phragmites australis (Poaceae) in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Rhodora. 109(937): 96-100. [68760]
  • 190. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 195. Saltonstall, Kristin. 2002. Cryptic invasion by a non-native genotype of the common reed, Phragmites australis, into North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99(4): 2445-2449. [68774]
  • 196. Saltonstall, Kristin. 2003. Genetic variation among North American populations of Phragmites australis: implications for management. Estuaries. 26(2B): 444-451. [68749]
  • 197. Saltonstall, Kristin; Peterson, Paul M.; Soreng, Robert J. 2004. Recognition of Phragmites australis subsp. americanus (Poaceae: Arundinoideae) in North America: evidence from morphological and genetic analyses. SIDA. 21(2): 683-692. [69716]
  • 212. Stanton, Lee Ellis. 2005. The establishment, expansion and ecosystem effects of Phragmites australis, an invasive species in coastal Louisiana. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University, Agricultural and Mechanical College. 166 p. Dissertation. [68800]
  • 252. Wilcox, Kerrie L.; Petrie, Scott A.; Maynard, Laurie A.; Meyer, Shawn W. 2003. Historical distribution and abundance of Phragmites australis at Long Point, Lake Erie, Ontario. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 29(4): 664-680. [68757]
  • 231. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. PLANTS Database, [Online]. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/. [34262]

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Distribution in the United States

Phragmites occurs throughout the lower 48 states and southern Canada. It has been reported to be invasive in natural areas in 18 states including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

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Native Range

Eurasia
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Distribution and Habitat in the United States

Common reed occurs in disturbed to pristine wet areas including tidal and non-tidal wetlands, brackish and fresh-water marshes, river edges, shores of lakes and ponds, roadsides and ditches. It prefers full sun and can tolerate fresh to mesohaline salinities.

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Origin

Europe

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Distribution in Egypt

Nile region, oases, Mediterranean region, Egyptian desert, Res Sea coastal strip and Sinai (St.Katherine).

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Source: Bibliotheca Alexandrina - EOL Ar

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Range

Found in appropriate habitats throughout Britain, and is particularly common in the south-east (2). Although the distribution of this species seems to be stable, there have been local losses (4). The common reed has a very broad global range; it is found in all parts of the world except for some tropical areas (3).
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Distribution: Pakistan (Punjab & Kashmir); temperate regions of both hemispheres in the Old World and the New.
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Widespread in temperate regions, N.W. India, Nepal.
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Widely distributed in the northern hemisphere.
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Widely distributed in the northern hemisphere.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: haplotype, marsh, perfect, rhizome, stolon

This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g., [58,82,87,111,158,190,215]).

Phragmites australis subsp. americanus, P. a. var. berlandieri, and the nonnative common reed haplotype are distinguished morphologically by the Flora of North America [14] and Blossey [26]. As new information is available, discriminating morphological characteristics are updated at www.invasiveplants.net [26].

Aboveground description: Common reed is a robust perennial grass that may reach 20 feet (6 m) tall [84,127,215]. It is the tallest native grass in Nova Scotia [190], Montana [136], and possibly other states or provinces. Maximum height is not typically reached until plants are 5 to 8 years old [52]. Common reed spreads by clonal growth via stolons and rhizomes, and produces dense stands [51,85,111,127]. Clones are long-lived; some report clones may persist for over 1,000 years (Rudescu and others 1965, cited in [100]), but no portion of the clone lives more than 8 years. Rhizomes typically outlive aboveground shoots [102]. Stolons are most typical during times of low water and reach lengths of up to 43 feet (13 m) [142,235].

Common reed produces stout, erect, hollow aerial stems [169,181]. Stems are usually leafy, persistent, and without branches [15,247]. At the base, stem thickness measures 5 to 15 mm [15,142]. Leaves are aligned on one side of the stem, flat at maturity, and measure 4 to 20 inches (10-60 cm) long and 0.4 to 2 inches (1-6 cm) wide [58,87,112,159]. Leaf margins are somewhat rough [85], and leaves are generally deciduous [111]. Common reed flowers occur in a large, feathery, 6- to 20-inch (15-50 cm) long panicle [63,181]. The panicle has many branches and is densely flowered [159]. Panicles are up to 8 inches (20 cm) wide after anthesis [82]. Spikelets contain 1 to 10 florets. Floret size decreases from the base of the panicle upward. Lower florets are staminate or sterile and without awns. Upper florets are pistillate or perfect with awns. Occasionally all spikelets are abortive [46,87,111,142,247]. Sometimes spikelets are reduced to a single glume and floret, causing panicles to lose their feathery appearance [235]. Seeds are small, measuring up to 1.5 mm long [142]. Common reed seeds collected from a salt marsh near the mouth of Delaware Bay had an average air-dry mass of 125.2 µg [251].

Stolons

Rhizomes

Photos ©Gary Fewless
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay


Belowground description: Extensive rhizome and stolon growth produces dense common reed stands [51,85,111,127]. First-year common reed rhizomes observed in Britain typically produced only 1 aboveground stem. In the 2nd year, rhizomes produced up to 4 aboveground stems, and in the 3rd year rhizomes produced up to 6 aboveground stems. Stem production usually decreased after rhizomes reached 6 years old [99].

Rhizomes are thick, "deep seated", and scaly [142,159] and can grow to 70 feet (20 m) long [114]. Rhizomes may grow 16 inches (40 cm)/year [54] and live 2 to 3 years [114]. Rhizomes in soil are commonly long, thick, and unbranched. In water, rhizomes are more slender, produce multiple branches, and are often shorter [114]. In the Prairie Provinces, common reed plants growing in wet soil at the water's edge produced thick, soft, spongy rhizomes that branched in several directions and at several levels. There were clusters of roots bearing other hair-like roots at the nodes [107].

Common reed rhizomes can penetrate deeply, but rhizome depth varies with site conditions. On the Atlantic coast of Delaware, researchers described common reed's belowground growth as a thick rhizome mat 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) below the surface [80]. In swamps of Cherry County, Nebraska, common reed rhizomes were 30 feet (9 m) deep [225]. An "extraordinarily large number" of rhizomes and roots formed a dense mat from the soil surface to about 8.2 feet (2.5 m) deep in the Skokie Marsh of Illinois [203]. In the Riverbend Marsh area of New Jersey's Hackensack Meadowlands, common reed roots and rhizomes in interior high marshes reached 24 inches (60 cm) deep and in mosquito ditches reached 22 inches (55 cm) deep [19]. Depth of belowground structures averaged 9.8 inches (25 cm) in clay soils and averaged 16 inches (40 cm) in moister soils with lower clay content on the southern coast of New Hampshire [36]. Additional information on rhizome, stolon, and clonal growth is available in Vegetative regeneration.

  • 158. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 2. Germany: J. Cramer. 2589 p. [37176]
  • 169. Munz, Philip A.; Keck, David D. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]
  • 87. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 111. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 14. Barkworth, Mary E.; Capels, Kathleen M.; Long, Sandy; Anderton, Laurel K.; Piep, Michael B., eds. 2007. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 24: Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. New York: Oxford University Press. 911 p. Available online: http://herbarium.usu.edu/webmanual/. [68092]
  • 15. Barkworth, Mary E.; Capels, Kathleen M.; Long, Sandy; Piep, Michael B., eds. 2003. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 25: Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. New York: Oxford University Press. 783 p. Available online: http://herbarium.usu.edu/webmanual/. [68091]
  • 19. Bart, David; Hartman, Jean Marie. 2000. Environmental determinants of Phragmites australis expansion in a New Jersey salt marsh: an experimental approach. Oikos. 89(1): 59-69. [68776]
  • 36. Briea, Patricia. 2006. A study of Phragmites australis along an elevational gradient and seed germination response at different salinity levels. Lowell, MA: University of Massachusetts, Department of Environmental, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences. 96 p. Thesis. [68797]
  • 46. Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124]
  • 51. Cronquist, Arthur; Holmgren, Arthur H.; Holmgren, Noel H.; Reveal, James L.; Holmgren, Patricia K. 1977. Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 6: The Monocotyledons. New York: Columbia University Press. 584 p. [719]
  • 52. Cross, Diana H.; Fleming, Karen L. 1989. Control of phragmites or common reed. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.4.12. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 5 p. [18396]
  • 54. Curtis, John T. 1959. Aquatic communities. In: The vegetation of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press: 385-401. [60531]
  • 58. Diggs, George M., Jr.; Lipscomb, Barney L.; O'Kennon, Robert J. 1999. Illustrated flora of north-central Texas. Sida Botanical Miscellany, No. 16. Fort Worth, TX: Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 1626 p. [35698]
  • 63. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 80. Gallagher, John L.; Plumley, F. Gerald. 1979. Underground biomass profiles and productivity in Atlantic coastal marshes. American Journal of Botany. 66(2): 156-161. [68793]
  • 82. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 84. Goodrich, Sherel; Neese, Elizabeth. 1986. Uinta Basin flora. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ashley National Forest; Vernal, UT: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Vernal District. 320 p. [23307]
  • 85. Gould, Frank W. 1978. Common Texas grasses. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. 267 p. [5035]
  • 99. Haslam, S. M. 1968. The biology of reed (Phragmites communis) in relation to its control. In: Proceedings of the 9th British weed control conference; Brighton, UK: British Crop Protection Council: 392-397. [16860]
  • 100. Haslam, S. M. 1971. Community regulation in Phragmites communis Trin. I. Monodominant stands. Journal of Ecology. 59: 65-73. [16677]
  • 102. Haslam, S. M. 1973. Some aspects of the life history and autecology of Phragmites communis Trin. A review. Polish Archives of Hydrobiology. 20(1): 79-100. [17261]
  • 107. Hayden, Ada. 1919. The ecologic subterranean anatomy of some plants of a prairie province in central Iowa. American Journal of Botany. 6(3): 87-105. [66943]
  • 112. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 114. Holm, LeRoy G.; Plocknett, Donald L.; Pancho, Juan V.; Herberger, James P. 1977. The world's worst weeds: distribution and biology. Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawaii. 609 p. [20702]
  • 136. Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p. [13798]
  • 159. Mason, Herbert L. 1957. A flora of the marshes of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 878 p. [16905]
  • 181. Pojar, Jim; MacKinnon, Andy, eds. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Publishing. 526 p. [25159]
  • 190. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 203. Sherff, E. E. 1912. The vegetation of Skokie Marsh, with special reference to subterranean organs and their interrelationships. Botanical Gazette. 53(5): 415-435. [66922]
  • 215. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 225. Tolstead, W. L. 1942. Vegetation of the northern part of Cherry County, Nebraska. Ecological Monographs. 12: 255-292. [4470]
  • 235. Voss, Edward G. 1972. Michigan flora. Part I: Gymnosperms and monocots. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 488 p. [11471]
  • 247. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]
  • 251. Wijte, Antonia H. B. M.; Gallagher, John L. 1996. Effect of oxygen availability and salinity on early life history stages of salt marsh plants. I. Different germination strategies of Spartina alterniflora and Phragmites australis (Poaceae). American Journal of Botany. 83(10): 1337-1342. [68780]
  • 26. Blossey, Bernd. 2002. Morphological differences between native and introduced genotypes, [Online]. In: Phragmites: common reed: Morphological differences. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program (Producer). Available: http://www.invasiveplants.net/phragmites/morphology.asp [2008, March 12]. [69727]
  • 127. Kartesz, John Thomas. 1988. A flora of Nevada. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 1729 p. [In 2 volumes]. Dissertation. [42426]
  • 142. Larson, Gary E. 1993. Aquatic and wetland vascular plants of the Northern Great Plains. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-238. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 681 p. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (Producer). Available: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/plants/vascplnt/vascplnt.htm [2006, February 11]. [22534]

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Description

Common reed, or Phragmites, is a tall, perennial grass that can grow to over 15 feet in height. In North America, both native phragmites (Phragmites australis ssp. americanus Saltonstall, P.M. Peterson & Soreng) and introduced subspecies are found. Introduced Phragmites forms dense stands which include both live stems and standing dead stems from previous year’s growth. Leaves are elongate and typically 1-1.5 inches wide at their widest point. Flowers form bushy panicles in late July and August and are usually purple or golden in color. As seeds mature, the panicles begin to look “fluffy” due to the hairs on the seeds and they take on a grey sheen. Below ground, Phragmites forms a dense network of roots and rhizomes which can go down several feet in depth. The plant spreads horizontally by sending out rhizome runners which can grow 10 or more feet in a single growing season if conditions are optimal.

Please see the table below for information on distinguishing betweeen native and introduced Phragmites.

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Description and Biology

  • Plant: perennial grass, stems to 15 ft., somewhat rough to the touch, lack fungal spots but some mildew may be present.
  • Leaves: blue green and darker than the native form; elongate, typically 1-1½ in. wide at their widest point; leaf sheaths adhere tightly to stem and persist through the winter; ligule is less than 1 mm long.
  • Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers in bushy panicles, usually purple or golden in color; upper glumes 4.5-7.5 mm, lower glumes 2.5-5.0 mm (most <4.0).
  • Spreads: by seed which is dispersed by wind and water; vegetatively through rhizomes and transport of rhizome fragments.
  • Look-alikes: native form of Phragmites; other large grasses with plume-like inflorescences.

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Physical Description

Perennials, Aquatic, leaves emergent, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Rhizomes present, Rhizome elongate, creeping, stems distant, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stems branching above base or distally at nodes, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence 1-2 m tall, Stems with inflorescence 2-6 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades disarticulating from sheath, deciduous at ligule, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades lanceolate, Leaf blades 1-2 cm wide, Leaf blades 2 or more cm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Ligule present, Ligule a fringed, ciliate, or lobed membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Peduncle or rachis scabrous or pubescent, often with long hairs, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 2 florets, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets with 8-40 florets, Spi kelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Spikelets conspicuously hairy , Rachilla or pedicel hairy, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes 3 nerved, Glumes 4-7 nerved, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 3 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma awnless, Lemma margins inrolled, tightly covering palea and caryopsis, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea membranous, hyaline, Palea shorter than lemma, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis.
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Description

Perennial reed, with creeping rhizomes. Culms erect, 1.5-3(6) m high. Leaf-blades 20-60 cm (or more) long and 8-32 mm wide, glabrous, smooth beneath, the tips filiform and flexuous (sometimes stiff and pungent, see below). Panicle 20-30(-50) cm long and 6-10(-15) cm wide, the lowest node usually few-branched, some of the branches bearing spikelets nearly to their base. Spikelets 12-18 mm long, the rhachilla-hairs 6-10 mm long, copious, silky; lower glume 3-4.5 mm long; upper glume lanceolate, 5-9 mm long, sharply acute, usually apiculate; lowest lemma linear lanceolate to linear-oblong, 8-15 mm long; fertile lemmas very narrowly lanceolate, 9-13 mm long.
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Description

Robust perennial from an extensive creeping rhizome; overground stolons sometimes present, straight, nodes glabrous. Culms up to 2 m or more tall, ca. 6 mm in diam., usually farinose below nodes, nodes glabrous or pubescent. Leaf sheaths light green, glabrous or thinly hairy; leaf blades usually drooping, up to 50 × 1–3 cm, smooth or margins scabrous, tapering to a filiform apex; ligule a minute membranous rim, ciliate, hairs 0.2–0.6 mm. Panicle 20–50 × ca. 10 cm, branches of lowermost whorl usually spiculate to base, densely hirsute at insertion; pedicels 2–4 mm, glabrous or pilose only at base. Spikelets 10–18 mm, florets 2–5; glumes acute, lower glume up to 1/2 length of lowest lemma, 3–5 mm, upper glume 6–9 mm; lowest lemma linear-lanceolate, 8–15 mm; floret callus with hairs equal to lemma; bisexual lemmas very narrowly lanceolate, 9–16 mm, apex long attenuate. Fl. and fr. Jul–Nov. 2n = 36, 44, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 84, 96, 120.
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Elevation Range

3000-3600 m
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Description

Tall reed. Rhizome conspicuous. Ligule 1 mm long, upper margin fimbriate, blade 2 cm wide. Panicle large, open. Spikelets usually 3-flowered, 14 mm long; glumes lanceolate, chartaceous, 3-nerved, sometimes tessellate-nerved; the lower 4 mm long; lemma 7-10 mm long, chartaceous, 3-nerved, lanceolate, glabrous; callus elongated with silky hairs; palea 2.5-4 mm long, 2-keeled, margins minutely ciliate, apex truncate.
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Description

Tall reed. Rhizome conspicuous. Ligule 1 mm long, upper margin fimbriate, blade 2 cm wide. Panicle large, open. Spikelets usually 3-flowered, 14 mm long; glumes lanceolate, chartaceous, 3-nerved, sometimes tessellate-nerved; the lower 4 mm long; lemma 7-10 mm long, chartaceous, 3-nerved, lanceolate, glabrous; callus elongated with silky hairs; palea 2.5-4 mm long, 2-keeled, margins minutely ciliate, apex truncate.
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Diagnostic Description

Members of the genus Phragmites are superficially similar to Arundo. Sterile specimens of P. australis are sometimes misidentified as Arundo donax, a grass introduced to North America from Asia and now troublesome in natural areas, especially in California. The genera can be distinguished when in flower because the glumes of Phragmites are glabrous while those of Arundo are covered with soft, whitish hairs 6-8 mm long. In addition, the glumes are much shorter than the lemmas in Phragmites.

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Synonym

Arundo australis Cavanilles, Anales Hist. Nat. 1: 100. 1799; A. phragmites Linnaeus; Phragmites communis Trinius.
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Type Information

Isosyntype for Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.
Catalog Number: US 908121
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. F. von Karwinsky von Karwin
Locality: San Ramon, Durango, Mexico, North America
  • Isosyntype: Fournier, E. P. 1877. Bull. Soc. Bot. France. 24: 178.; Saltonstall, K. & et al. 2004. Sida. 21: 689.
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Isosyntype for Phragmites berlandieri E. Fourn.
Catalog Number: US 899991
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen; Status verified from secondary sources
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. Drummond
Year Collected: 1835
Locality: Texas, United States, North America
  • Isosyntype: Fournier, E. P. 1877. Bull. Soc. Bot. France. 24: 178.; Saltonstall, K. & et al. 2004. Sida. 21: 689.
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Isosyntype for Phragmites berlandieri E. Fourn.
Catalog Number: US 899990
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen; Status verified from secondary sources
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. Drummond
Locality: Texas, United States, North America
  • Isosyntype: Fournier, E. P. 1877. Bull. Soc. Bot. France. 24: 178.; Saltonstall, K. & et al. 2004. Sida. 21: 689.
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Isolectotype for Phragmites berlandieri E. Fourn.
Catalog Number: US 82049
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen; Status verified from secondary sources
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. L. Berlandier
Year Collected: 1828
Locality: Entre Laredo et Bejar., Texas, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 2 to 3
  • Isolectotype: Fournier, E. P. 1877. Bull. Soc. Bot. France. 24: 178.; Saltonstall, K. & et al. 2004. Sida. 21: 689.
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Ecology

Habitat

Gulf of California Xeric Scrub

This taxon occurs in the Gulf of California xeric scrub ecoregion, situated along the eastern coastal zone and Gulf of California versant of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, and is delineated by the spine of the La Giganta Sierra Mountains. This ecoregion, located entirely within the nation of Mexico, is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Scrublands biome.  Species richness of plants is high in the ecoregion, but modest for fauna; however, endemism is high in this arid habitat, which receives some of the lowest precipitation in all of Mexico.

Dominant flora species are Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) and White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa); moreover, other plant taxa occurring here include: Arizona Nettle-spurge (Jatropha cinerea), Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota), Acacia brandegeana, Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum), and Chloroleucon mangense var. leucospermum. Species of more mesic habitats occur on the many oases that are present on the Baja Peninsula: Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta), Southern Cattail (Typha domingensis), Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera). The oases are remnants of more extensive mesic environments that existed in the peninsula in prehistoric times; these earlier habitats consisted of larger bodies of surface water distributed throughout the peninsula, surrounded by vegetation that belongs to wetlands interspersed with common elements of the xeric scrub.

The Isla Santa Catalina Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus bugastrolepis) is an endemic reptile to the Gulf of California xeric scrub, occurring only on Isla Santa Catalina, and often found in dead cacti. Other reptile species found here include: the endemic Santa Catalina Island Whiptail (Cnemidophorus catalinensis), seen only on Santa Catalina Island in the Gulf of California; the endemic Santa Catalina Island Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus lineatulus); the endemic San Lorenzo Islands Lizard (Uta antiqua); the endemic Salsipuedes Island Whiptail (Cnemidophorus canus), restricted in occurrence to endemic to the islands of Salsipuedes, San Lorenzo Norte and San Lorenzo Sur ; the endemic Raza Island Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus tinklei),  found on Raza Island; the endemic Santa Cruz Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus santacruzensis); the endemic Isla Partida Del Norte Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus partidus), found solely on Isla Partida Norte and Cardonosa Este, in the Gulf of California; the endemic Angel Island Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus angelensis), found only on several Gulf of California islands in the county of Islas Angel de la Guarda; the endemic Las Animas Island Gecko (Phyllodactylus apricus); and the near-endemic Marbled Whiptail (Cnemidophorus marmoratus), the latter of which occupies burrows in sandy soils.

There are a number of mammalian taxa present in the Gulf of California xeric scrub, including: Angel Island Mouse (Peromyscus guardia CR), an ecoregion endemic known only from Ángel de la Guarda Island in the northern Gulf of California, México; the ecoregion endemic Burt's Deermouse (Peromyscus caniceps CR), known only from Montserrat Island, Baja California Sur, Mexico; Baja California Rock Squirrel (Spermophilus atricapillus EN), a Baja California endemic; and the Fish-eating Bat (Myotis vivesi VU), which is found along in the coastal zone of Baja California and Sonora. Bunker's Woodrat (Neotoma bunkeri EX) was previously endemic to the ecoregion and is now extinct.

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Comments: Phragmites is especially common in alkaline and brackish (slightly saline) environments (Haslam 1972, 1971b), and can also thrive in highly acidic wetlands (Rawinski, pers. comm. 1985). However, Phragmites does not require, nor even prefer these habitats to freshwater areas. Its growth is greater in fresh water but it may be outcompeted in these areas by other species that cannot tolerate brackish, alkaline or acidic waters. It is often found in association with other wetland plants including species from the following genera: SPARTINA, CAREX, NYMPHAEA, TYPHA, GLYCERIA, JUNCUS, MYRICA, TRIGLOCHIN, CALAMAGROSTIS, GALIUM, and PHALARIS (Howard et al. 1978).

Phragmites occurs in disturbed areas as well as pristine sites. It is especially common along railroad tracks, roadside ditches, and piles of dredge spoil, wherever even slight depressions hold water (Ricciuti 1983). Penko (pers. comm. 1993) has observed stunted Phragmites growing on acidic tailings (Ph 2.9) from an abandoned copper mine in Vermont. Various types of human manipulation and/or disturbance are thought to promote Phragmites (Roman et al. 1984). For example, restriction of the tidal inundation of a marsh may result in a lowering of the water table, which may in turn favor Phragmites. Likewise, sedimentation may promote the spread of Phragmites by elevating a marsh's substrate surface and effectively reducing the frequency of tidal inundation (Klockner, pers. comm. 1985).

A number of explanations have been proposed to account for the recent dramatic increases in Phragmites populations in the northeastern and Great Lakes States. As noted above, habitat manipulations and disturbances caused by humans are thought to have a role. In some areas Phragmites may also have been promoted by the increases in soil salinity which result when de- icing salt washes off roads and into nearby ditches and wetlands (McNabb and Batterson 1991). On the other hand, bare patches of road sand washed into ditches and wetlands may be of greater importance. Phragmites seeds are shed from November through January and so may be among the first propagules to reach these sites. If the seeds germinate and become established the young plants will usually persist for at least two years in a small, rather inconspicuous stage, resembling many other grasses. Later, perhaps after the input of nutrients, they may take off and assume the tall growth form that makes the species easily identifiable . Increases in soil nutrient concentrations, may come from runoff from farms and urban areas. It has also been suggested increases in nutrient concentrations, especially nitrates, are primarily responsible for increases in Phragmites populations. Ironically, eutrophication and increases in nitrate levels are sometimes blamed for the decline of Phragmites populations in Europe (Den Hartog et al. 1989).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology

This species will occur in most wetland habitats, from the margins of small ditches through river margins, ponds, lakes and reservoirs to vast expanses of reedmarsh, often in shallow water or growing out over deeper water. It can tolerate brackish conditions and variation in nutrient status from oligotrophic to highly eutrophic. It is capable of persisting for many years in sites which have ceased to be wetlands, e.g. where the source of water to a wetland has been diverted, but eventually dies out. It is capable of colonizing and becoming a serious weed in some types of irrigated agriculture.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: cover, density, frequency, fresh, marsh, minerotrophic, natural

Throughout its range, common reed is most common on wet, muddy, or flooded areas around ponds, marshes, lakes, springs, irrigation ditches, and other waterways. Common reed tolerates brackish and saline conditions [15,51,63,112,181,190]. In a review, authors report that common reed grows best in areas with slow or stagnant water and silty substrates [114]. However, on the Delmarva Peninsula along the Atlantic Coast, native common reed populations were more common along rivers than in marshes [161].

Established clones typically tolerate harsher conditions than seedlings. A review reported that growth from established clones was much less restricted than that of seedlings or sprouts. Newly established plants were limited to sites with less than 10,000 ppm salinity, sulfide concentrations below 0.1 mM, and a flooding frequency of less than 10%. Established clones grew in salinity up to 45,000 ppm, sulfide concentrations above 1.75 mM, and continuous flooding [42].

Climate: The large range occupied by common reed implies a wide climatic tolerance. In North America, common reed occurs in semiarid to arid desert, subhumid to humid continental, and subtropical climates. References consulted throughout this review showed that climates in common reed habitats varied widely by region. Information on temperature ranges, annual precipitation, growing season length, and possible disturbance weather given in this literature are presented below. Minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation levels reported are specific to the location identified and based on a finite time period.

Northern United States: Common reed habitats in the northern Great Lakes states experience a subhumid, continental climate. Summers are short and warm; winters are long and cold. Annual precipitation averages 20 inches (508 mm) in northwestern Minnesota and 33.9 inches (860 mm) in Michigan's upper peninsula. Most of the precipitation (66%) occurs from April to September [29]. In the Lake Agassiz Peatlands Natural Area of Minnesota, January minimum temperatures average -39 °F (-39 °C), and July maximums average 94 °F (34 °C) (review by [108]).

Great Basin and Mojave deserts: In Utah and Oregon, common reed can occupy habitats in arid and semiarid climates [176,207,248]. At Diamond Pond in Harney County, Oregon, relative humidity is low, evaporation is high, and the growing season is short (80-117 days). Annual rainfall averages 7.9 to 12 inches (200-300 mm). Daily and seasonal temperatures fluctuate widely [248]. In Death Valley, common reed grows, when water is abundant, in locations where July temperatures can reach 110 to 115 °F (43-46 °C) [176].

Southern United States: Common reed habitats in South Carolina experience a subtropical climate with long, hot, humid summers and mild winters. The growing season averages 254 days. Average annual precipitation is 49 inches (1,245 mm), and hurricanes are possible but infrequent [211]. Common reed is typical in coastal prairies along the Gulf Coast in southeastern Texas and Louisiana. The climate is subtropical humid to semiarid in the Gulf Coast. The frost-free period averages 240 days in Louisiana and more than 320 days in lower Texas. Annual precipitation averages 56.6 inches (1,437 mm) at Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 28.8 inches (732 mm) at Corpus Christi, Texas. Ice storms, tropical storms, and hurricanes are possible (review by [205]).

A few studies have focused on the effect of specific weather and climates on common reed survival and growth. Several years of observations and studies in England indicated that spring frosts often increased common reed shoot density, crop biomass, and emergence period but decreased stem height and diameter [101]. Common reed plants taken from a Nebraska Sandhills meadow rolled their leaves when subjected to drought stress. Leaf rolling decreased the leaf area exposed to radiation [96]. Common reed growth and reproduction were greatest during an El Niño year in southern New England. Growth and reproduction were compared for 3 years, beginning 1 year before a high-precipitation El Niño year. Spring and summer were dry in the year before the El Niño. In the El Niño year, winter and spring were among the 10 hottest and wettest in the past 105 years. The following year had the 3rd hottest and 8th driest conditions in a 105-year period. On average, 30% more shoots were produced, shoots were 25% taller, and 10 times as many inflorescences were produced in the El Niño year than in years before or after. Soil salinity was negatively related to precipitation over the 3 years, and decreased salinity through precipitation inputs may have improved common reed growth [164].

Elevation: Common reed occupies sites from sea level to 7,000 feet (2,100 m) throughout North America. Elevation ranges in specific geographical areas are given below.

Elevational range of common reed by state
State Elevation (feet)
California below 5,200 [59,111,169]
Colorado 3,500-6,500 [97]
Idaho (eastern) 3,200-5,280 [92]
Michigan below 4,900 [235]
Montana (central and eastern) 2,100-3,850 [95]
Nevada 2,000-6,700 [23,127]
New Mexico 3,500-6,000 [158]
Utah 2,500-6,500 [247]
Utah (Uinta Basin) below 7,000 [84]

Soils: Common reed occupies a wide variety of substrates and tolerates a range of nutrients, organic matter, and pH levels. Soils in common reed habitats are described as "tight" clays in north-central Texas [58], rich and moist in West Virginia [215], wet and moderately fertile in the Great Plains [216], peaty in salt marshes along the north Atlantic Coast [63], minerotrophic peats in the northern Great Lakes states [29], and seasonally flooded clay to sandy loams in southern and eastern Idaho and central and eastern Montana [92,94]. In temperate regions, common reed may form a floating mat or island that is not well rooted in the substrate [114,181].

Nutrients/pH: Soils in common reed habitats may be acidic, basic, nutrient rich or nutrient poor, but soil and water conditions tolerated may depend on developmental stage.

Stunted common reed plants grew on acid tailings from an abandoned copper mine in Vermont where the pH was 2.9 (Penko 1993, personal communication, cited in [155]). In Louisiana coastal marshes, common reed occupied sites with pH ranging from 3.7 to 8. Additional information on the soil nutrients in coastal marshes is available from Chabreck [39]. In the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge of Utah, common reed communities occurred where pH levels were 8.2 to 9.2 and organic matter was 4% to 4.6% [30]. In the Lake Agassiz Peatlands Natural Area of Minnesota, common reed was indicative of weakly minerotrophic waters with pH of 4.3 to 5.8 and calcium levels of 3 to 10 ppm [108]. In Wisconsin, common reed occurs in emergent aquatic communities in waters with less than 50 ppm and more than 150 ppm calcium carbonate [54]. Cover of common reed was significantly greater in undiked than diked wetlands on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan (P<0.0001). Diked wetlands had more stable water levels than undiked wetlands. Soils in diked wetlands were organic and in undiked wetlands were sandy or silty. Soils in diked areas were significantly more acidic, and had significantly more organic matter, total nitrogen, and available phosphorus than soils in undiked areas (P<0.001) [110].

Water level: Common reed tolerates frequent, prolonged flooding as well as seasonal drying [94,124]. The frequency, level, and duration of flooding tolerated by common reed differs by site. Flooding can also affect salinity levels. In the northeastern United States, common reed survival and growth were best at low salinity [37,109,134] and low flooding conditions. Growth was reduced by flooding at low salinity levels but increased with flooding at high salinity (>18,000 ppm) levels [37,134].

Common reed's tolerance of flooding frequency, level, and duration varies by site. Voss [235] reported that common reed occurred in water up to 6 feet deep in Michigan. Common reed occurred on sites with "frequent and prolonged" flooding in central and eastern Montana [94]. A review reported that common reed can survive flooding levels of 1 foot (0.3 m) or more for at least 8 years [156]. Southern cattail-common reed communities along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon occur on sites that are inundated an average of 54% of the time [213]. Common reed plants collected from the Gulf of Mexico and grown in the greenhouse had greater average stem height when grown in 8 inches (20 cm) of water than plants kept moist (P<0.05) [116]. However, common reed was often killed when roots were submerged for repeated growing seasons in Manitoba's Delta Marsh [238], where it was most typical of moist sites and avoided areas with more than 1.6 feet (0.5 m) of summer water [150]. A review of prairie marshes of western Canada indicated that common reed did not persist where the water table was deeper than 39 inches (100 cm). Clones did not spread where the water table was more than 20 inches (50 cm) deep, and mortality was likely if plants were flooded for 3 years with more than 3 feet (1 m) of water [202].

Fluctuating water levels are also tolerated by common reed. In southern and eastern Idaho, the common reed habitat type occurs on seasonally flooded sites where water levels range from 20 inches (50 cm) above to 3 feet (1 m) below the soil surface [92]. Water levels in common reed habitats of the Rocky Mountain Region fluctuate from 2 feet (0.6 m) above to 2 feet (0.6 m) below the soil surface [124]. On the Tailhandier Flats on the St Lawrence River of Quebec, common reed persisted in dry (water table >3 feet (1 m) deep) and in flooded (8 inches (20 cm) deep for 90 days) conditions. Area occupied increased when low water levels occurred in the previous year's growing season and decreased when the water table was 4.9 feet (1.5 m) or more deep or when flooded for more than 100 growing-season days [117].

Salinity: While common reed tolerates high salinity levels (up to 45,000 ppm) [42], it typically grows and establishes best in sites with low salinity (0-5,000 ppm). Along Long Island Sound in Connecticut, common reed did not occur on sites with more than 26,000 ppm salinity. Common reed cover, frequency, stem height, and percentage of flowering stems were significantly negatively correlated with salinity (P≤0.003) [241]. In marshes along the Connecticut River, common reed was significantly taller and produced more biomass/ramet in fresh (0-5,000 ppm) than brackish (11,000-17,000 ppm) marshes (P<0.001). Shoots emerged significantly earlier in fresh than brackish marshes, but common reed stem density was significantly greater (P<0.0001) in brackish than freshwater [67]. On the Delmarva Peninsula, native common reed populations were most common in low salinity habitats [161]. In the upper Chesapeake Bay area, common reed colonized freshwater (0-200 ppm) before mesohaline (2,000-10,000 ppm) marshes based on aerial photos taken between 1938 and 1995 [186]. Common reed plants collected from the Gulf of Mexico and grown in the greenhouse in salinity of 4,000 or 10,000 ppm had lower total stem height than those grown without salt (P<0.05) [116].

  • 158. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 2. Germany: J. Cramer. 2589 p. [37176]
  • 169. Munz, Philip A.; Keck, David D. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]
  • 111. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 15. Barkworth, Mary E.; Capels, Kathleen M.; Long, Sandy; Piep, Michael B., eds. 2003. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 25: Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. New York: Oxford University Press. 783 p. Available online: http://herbarium.usu.edu/webmanual/. [68091]
  • 29. Boelter, Don H.; Verry, Elon S. 1977. Peatland and water in the northern Lake States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-31. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 22 p. [8168]
  • 30. Bolen, Eric G. 1964. Plant ecology of spring-fed salt marshes in western Utah. Ecological Monographs. 34(2): 143-166. [11214]
  • 37. Burdick, David M.; Konisky, Raymond A. 2003. Determinants of expansion for Phragmites australis, common reed, in natural and impacted coastal marshes. Estuaries. 26(2B): 407-416. [68722]
  • 39. Chabreck, Robert H. 1972. Vegetation, water and soil characteristics of the Louisiana coastal region. Bulletin 664. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. 72 p. [19976]
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  • 92. Hall, James B.; Hansen, Paul L. 1997. A preliminary riparian habitat type classification system for the Bureau of Land Management districts in southern and eastern Idaho. Tech. Bull. No. 97-11. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management; Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Riparian and Wetland Research Program. 381 p. [28173]
  • 94. Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 411 p. [5660]
  • 95. Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central and eastern Montana. Draft Version 2. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 279 p. [12477]
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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: cover, fen, fresh, marsh, oligohaline, series

Common reed is widespread in both estuarine intertidal and palustrine persistent emergent
wetlands [49]. It often forms monotypic stands [10,94], as other species are excluded by
persistent shading and extensive utilization of space by common reed [100].



Although common reed stands are often monotypic, adjacent wetter and drier sites may be
occupied by more flood-tolerant and less flood-tolerant species, respectively [94].
Dominant vegetation within a wetland or riparian site is often determined by water levels
and flood tolerances, and so it often fluctuates with water table changes [225]. These
zones of vegetation are "extensive and dramatic" in Big Creek Fen of Cherry
County, Nebraska [32], and well-defined in swamps of northwestern Minnesota [66]. In the
Delta Marshes of southern Manitoba, it appears that common reed is the only species for
acres, but a closer look reveals patches of common river grass (Scolochloa festucacea)
within the stands [150]. Disturbances can also affect community composition. In southern
and eastern Idaho and eastern Montana, nonnative Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
may establish in highly disturbed common reed stands [92,95].
Common reed is a dominant species in the following vegetation types and
classifications recognized in the United States and Canada. Broad classifications
are presented before state-specific classifications.
Throughout the United States:



  • deep fresh marshes in the northern inland states, the Nebraska Sandhills,
    and Florida

  • shallow fresh marshes on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts [157]
Rocky Mountains:

  • common reed/hairy sedge (Carex lacustris) plant associations in
    the Rocky Mountain Region including Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas
    [124]
Great Plains:

  • common reed semipermanently flooded herbaceous alliances in Manitoba,
    Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, and Kansas [200]
Canadian Prairie Provinces:

  • common river grass-common reed vegetation types

  • white panicle aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum subsp. hesperium var.
    hesperium)-common reed vegetation types

  • sedge (Carex spp.)-common reed communities in aquatic and semiaquatic sites
    [148,149]
Southern United States:

  • common reed is a likely dominant in riparian scrubland vegetation along intermediate
    banks of the Rio Grande, oases of the western Sonoran Desert, and Sonoran and Sinaloan
    interior marshlands and submergent communities [167]

  • marsh/wetland cover types in the Great Basin ecoregion [217]

  • Gulf Coast salt and fresh marsh rangeland cover types along the Gulf of Mexico
    (most extensive along Florida, Louisiana, and southeastern Texas coasts) [55,56]

  • Cordgrass (Spartina spp.) rangeland cover types in the Southern Cordgrass Prairie
    from the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana to the mouth of the Mississippi [60]
Arizona:

  • clonal wet marsh (southern cattail (Typha domingensis)-common reed) communities
    along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon [213]
California:

  • common reed vegetation series in the Apple Canyon drainage of the western Transverse
    Ranges [35]

  • alkali wet meadows in southern California [224]
Colorado:

  • common reed wetlands (review by [11])
Idaho:

  • common reed habitat types at low- to midelevations in southern and eastern Idaho [92]

  • common reed/poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) associations on the middle and
    lower Snake River [121]
Louisiana:

  • sawgrass (Cladium mariscus subsp. jamaicense)-common reed vegetation [171]

  • common reed-big cordgrass (S. cynosuroides) associations along Bayou Villars
    in southeastern Louisiana; commonly referred to as "cane" communities [178]
Michigan:

  • common reed-broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia) vegetation associations in beach-pool
    bogs in northern lower Michigan [81]
Minnesota:

  • common reed vegetation zones in reed marshes of northwestern Minnesota [66]
Montana:

  • common reed dominance types at lower elevations in central and eastern Montana [94]
Nebraska:

  • common reed zone types in the Big Creek Fen, Cherry County [32]
Nevada:

  • western North American, temperate, seminatural, herbaceous vegetation type dominated by
    common reed [170]

  • marsh/wetland cover types [217]
New York:

  • northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)-common reed communities

  • common reed marshes on Robins Island, eastern Long Island [38]
Oklahoma:

  • common reed herbaceous alliances in northeastern, central, and western Oklahoma [113]
Utah:

  • common reed dominates shallow water portions of the tule marshes along the Great Salt
    Lake; tule likely refers to Schoenoplectus acutus var. occidentalis, but
    scientific name was not reported [12]

  • common reed communities in Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge [30]
Virginia:

  • monotypic common reed communities in tidal oligohaline marshes common on dredge spoils and
    disturbed sites [71]
  • 11. Baker, William L. 1984. A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado. The Great Basin Naturalist. 44(4): 647-676. [380]
  • 10. Auclair, Allan N.; Bouchard, Andre; Pajaczkowski, Josephine. 1973. Plant composition and species relations on the Huntingdon Marsh, Quebec. Canadian Journal of Botany. 51: 1231-1247. [14498]
  • 12. Banner, Roger E. 1992. Vegetation types of Utah. Journal of Range Management. 14(2): 109-114. [20298]
  • 30. Bolen, Eric G. 1964. Plant ecology of spring-fed salt marshes in western Utah. Ecological Monographs. 34(2): 143-166. [11214]
  • 32. Borgmann, Marian; Jonas, Jayne. 2003. The vascular plant community composition of three fens in the sandhills of Nebraska. In: Foré, Stephanie, ed. Promoting prairie: Proceedings of the 18th North American Prairie Conference; 2002 June 23-27; Kirksville, MO. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press: 164-173. [67090]
  • 35. Boyd, Steve. 1999. Vascular flora of the Liebre Mountains, western Transverse Ranges, California. Aliso. 18(2): 93-139. [40639]
  • 38. Butler, Brett J.; Barclay, John S.; Fisher, Jeffrey P. 1999. Plant communities and flora of Robins Island (Long Island), New York. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 126(1): 63-76. [62545]
  • 49. Cowardin, Lewis M.; Carter, Virginia; Golet, Francis C.; LaRoe, Edward T. 1979. Classification of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States. FWS/OBS-79/31. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 131 p. [41938]
  • 55. Cutshall, Jack R. 1994. SRM 806: Gulf Coast salt marsh. In: Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 114. [67473]
  • 56. Cutshall, Jack R. 1994. SRM 807: Gulf Coast fresh marsh. In: Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 114-115. [67474]
  • 60. Drawe, D. Lynn. 1994. SRM 726: Cordgrass. In: Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 101-102. [67377]
  • 66. Ewing, J. 1924. Plant successions of the brush-prairie in north-western Minnesota. Journal of Ecology. 12: 238-266. [11122]
  • 81. Gates, Frank C. 1942. The bogs of northern Lower Michigan. Ecological Monographs. 12(3): 213-254. [10728]
  • 92. Hall, James B.; Hansen, Paul L. 1997. A preliminary riparian habitat type classification system for the Bureau of Land Management districts in southern and eastern Idaho. Tech. Bull. No. 97-11. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management; Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Riparian and Wetland Research Program. 381 p. [28173]
  • 94. Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 411 p. [5660]
  • 95. Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central and eastern Montana. Draft Version 2. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 279 p. [12477]
  • 100. Haslam, S. M. 1971. Community regulation in Phragmites communis Trin. I. Monodominant stands. Journal of Ecology. 59: 65-73. [16677]
  • 113. Hoagland, Bruce. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: a classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist. 45(4): 385-420. [41226]
  • 121. Jankovsky-Jones, Mabel; Rust, Steven K.; Moseley, Robert K. 1999. Riparian reference areas in Idaho: a catalog of plant associations and conservation sites. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-20. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 141 p. [29900]
  • 124. Johnston, Barry C. 1987. Plant associations of Region Two: Potential plant communities of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas. 4th ed. R2-ECOL-87-2. Lakewood, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. 429 p. [54304]
  • 148. Looman, J. 1981. The vegetation of the Canadian prairie provinces. III. Aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation. Phytocoenologia. 9(4): 473-497. [18401]
  • 149. Looman, J. 1982. The vegetation of the Canadian prairie provinces. III. Aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation. Part 2: Freshwater marshes and bogs. Phytocoenologia. 10(4): 401-423. [18402]
  • 150. Love, Askell; Love, Doris. 1954. Vegetation of a prairie marsh. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 81(1): 16-34. [18103]
  • 157. Martin, Alexander C.; Hotchkiss, Neil; Uhler, Francis M.; Bourn, Warren S. 1953. Classification of wetlands of the United States. Special Scientific Report Wildlife No. 20. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 14 p. [41944]
  • 167. Minckley, W. L.; Brown, David E. 1982. Wetlands. In: Brown, David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 223-287. [8898]
  • 171. O'Neil, Ted. 1949. The muskrat in the Louisiana coastal marshes. New Orleans, LA: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Fish and Game Division, Federal Aid Section. 152 p. [18182]
  • 178. Penfound, W. T.; Hathaway, Edward S. 1938. Plant communities in the marshlands of southeastern Louisiana. Ecological Monographs. 8(1): 3-56. [15089]
  • 213. Stevens, Lawrence E.; Schmidt, John C.; Ayers, Tina J.; Brown, Bryan T. 1995. Flow regulation, geomorphology, and Colorado River marsh development in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Ecological Applications. 5(4): 1025-1039. [48984]
  • 217. Suring, Lowell H.; Rowland, Mary M.; Wisdom, Michael J.; Schueck, Linda; Meinke, Cara W. 2005. Chapter 3: vegetation communities. In: Wisdom, Michael J.; Rowland, Mary M.; Suring, Lowell H., eds. Habitat threats in the sagebrush ecosystem: methods of regional assessment and applications in the Great Basin. Lawrence, KS: Alliance Communications Group: 94-113. [67402]
  • 224. Thorne, Robert F. 1982. The desert and other transmontane plant communities of southern California. Aliso. 10(2): 219-257. [3768]
  • 225. Tolstead, W. L. 1942. Vegetation of the northern part of Cherry County, Nebraska. Ecological Monographs. 12: 255-292. [4470]
  • 71. Fleming, G. P.; Coulling, P. P.; Patterson, K. D. 2005. Estuarine system, [Online]. In: The natural communities of Virginia: classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.1. Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage (Producer). Available: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm [2005, November 3]. [60511]
  • 170. Nevada Natural Heritage Program. 2003. National vegetation classification for Nevada [NVC], [Online]. Carson City, NV: Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Producer). Available: http://heritage.nv.gov/ecology/nv_nvc.htm [2005, November 3]. [55021]
  • 200. Schneider, Rick E.; Faber-Langendoen, Don; Crawford, Rex C.; Weakley, Alan S. 1997. The status of biodiversity in the Great Plains: Great Plains vegetation classification. Supplemental Document 1. In: Ostlie, Wayne R.; Schneider, Rick E.; Aldrich, Janette Marie; Faust, Thomas M.; McKim, Robert L. B.; Chaplin, Stephen J., compilers. The status of biodiversity in the Great Plains, [Online]. Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy (Producer). 75 p. Available: http://conserveonline.org/docs/2005/02/greatplains_vegclass_97.pdf [2006, May 16]. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [62020]

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Habitat in the United States

Tidal and nontidal brackish and freshwater marshes, river edges, shores of lakes and ponds, roadsides, disturbed areas.

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U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

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Depth range based on 8 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1.5 - 1.5
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Forms extensive stands on mud or in shallow water in marshes, fens, bogs, and the edges of shallow lakes, salt marshes and estuaries.
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©  The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Source: Marine Life Information Network

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This wetland species forms large beds on mud or in shallow water (2); it is found in swamps and fens, ditches, at the edges of lakes, ponds, and rivers as well as in coastal lagoons, brackish swamps, estuaries and where freshwater seeps over sea-cliffs (4). This reed is the dominant species in reedbeds, a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2).
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© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

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Habitat & Distribution

Moist places along river banks and lake margins, forming large colonies. Throughout China [cosmopolitan].
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Dispersal

Establishment

Growth starts in February in some locations. Foliage stays green until frost. New shoots grow from buds at nodes of old, stems, stolons, and rhizomes. It grows in marshes and swamps, on banks of streams and lakes, and around springs. It grows best in firm mineral clays and tolerates moderate salinity. It does best if water level fluctuates from 6 inches below soil surface to 6 inches above. Common reed is often codominant with big cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides) on the gulf coast marsh rangelands.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Larvae of the Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator) feed on Giant Reed (Phragmites australis), as do the larvae of such moths as the Phragmites Wainscot (Leucania phragmitidicola) and Large Wainscot (Rhizedra lutosa). Other insect feeders include the leaf beetle Donaciella pubicollis, Southern Corn Leaf Beetle (Myochrous denticollis), Corn Flea Beetle (Chaetocnema pulicaria), larvae of the gall fly Calamomyia phragmites, and the Mealy Plum Aphid (Hyalopterus pruni); Giant Reed is the preferred summer host plant of this aphid. Among vertebrate animals, cattle and horses readily browse on the foliage of immature plants, while muskrats feed on the rhizomes and stems. The dense clonal colonies that this grass often forms and its tall coarse foliage provide protective cover for deer, rabbits, birds, and other animals. It also provides excellent nesting habitat for ducks, rails, and other wetland birds.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Known Pests: APHIDS

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Foodplant / saprobe
superficial pseudothecium of Acanthophiobolus helicosporus is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-10

Foodplant / saprobe
Acremonium anamorph of Acremonium alternatum is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis

Plant / resting place / on
ovum of Agromyza hendeli may be found on leaf of Phragmites australis
Other: sole host/prey

Plant / resting place / on
puparium of Agromyza phragmitidis may be found on leaf (near end of mine) of Phragmites australis
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Albotricha acutipila is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 4-8
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Albotricha albotestacea is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 2-8

Plant / epiphyte
fruitbody of Aleurodiscus phragmitis grows on dead, standing stem of Phragmites australis

Plant / resting place / on
female of Anaphothrips badius may be found on live Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3,7-9

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, clypeate perithecium of Anthostomella punctulata is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 2-10

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, clypeate perithecium of Anthostomella tomicoides is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Arthrinium dematiaceous anamorph of Apiospora montagnei is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Arthrinium dematiaceous anamorph of Arthrinium phaeospermum is saprobic on dead culm of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: esp. 7-8
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / spot causer
pycnidium of Actinothyrium coelomycetous anamorph of Ascochyta leptospora causes spots on leaf of Phragmites australis

Plant / resting place / on
female of Baliothrips biformis may be found on live Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 7-8

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Belemnospora dematiaceous anamorph of Belemnospora verruculosa is saprobic on dead culm of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pseudothecium of Botryosphaeria festucae is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 6-8

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent pseudothecium of Buergenerula typhae is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Calameuta filiformis feeds within small stem of Phragmites australis
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent pycnidium of Camarosporium coelomycetous anamorph of Camarosporium feurichii is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-10

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Cerodontha incisa may be found in leaf-mine of Phragmites australis

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Cerodontha phragmitidis may be found in leaf-mine of Phragmites australis
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / miner
larva of Cerodontha phragmitophila mines live leaf of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / pathogen
Sphacelia anamorph of Claviceps purpurea infects and damages inflorescence of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 7

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Coprinopsis kubickae is saprobic on decayed leaves of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
subepidermal, aggregated, linearly stromatic conidioma of Cytoplacosphaeria coelomycetous anamorph of Cytoplacosphaeria rimosa is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / pathogen
Deightoniella dematiaceous anamorph of Deightoniella arundinacea infects and damages trampled, dark grey leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 4-10

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Dendrothele sasae is saprobic on dead, standing stem of Phragmites australis

Plant / resting place / among
clustered, in groups of up to 10 cocoon of Donacia clavipes may be found among rhizome of Phragmites australis
Other: major host/prey

Plant / resting place / on
adult of Donacia simplex may be found on Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3-9(-11)

Foodplant / pathogen
Fusarium anamorph of Gibberella zeae infects and damages stem base of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / pathogen
superficial colony of Gyrothrix dematiaceous anamorph of Gyrothrix podosperma infects and damages dead leaf of Phragmites australis

Plant / resting place / on
Haplothrips hukkineni may be found on live Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pycnidium of Hendersonia coelomycetous anamorph of Hendersonia culmiseda is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 2-8

Foodplant / saprobe
Hendersonia coelomycetous anamorph of Hendersonia epicalamia is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis

Foodplant / sap sucker
small to large, densely aggregated colony of Hyalopterus pruni sucks sap of live leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 6-8

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Hymenoscyphus robustior is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 6-7
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Ischnodemus sabuleti agg. sucks sap of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, sometimes in rows pseudothecium of Keissleriella linearis is saprobic on dead, locally darkened stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Lachnum carneolum var. longisporum is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: (2-)6-8(-10)

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Lachnum controversum is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-10
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
stalked apothecium of Lachnum palearum var. palearum is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3-8

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Lachnum tenuissimum is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-8

Foodplant / gall
larva of Lasioptera arundinis causes gall of stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
thyriothecium of Lichenopeltella nigroannulata is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / gall
larva of Lipara lucens causes gall of stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: summer
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
partly immersed, usually linearly arranged pseudothecium of Lophiostoma arundinis is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pseudothecium of Lophiostoma caudatum is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 1-4
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
mostly immersed, becoming partly erumpent to free pseudothecium of Lophiostoma semiliberum is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 12-4
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
pseudothecium of Lophiotrema grandispora is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
conidial anamorph of Lophodermium arundinaceum is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 11-3+
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Marasmius curreyi is saprobic on dead, decayed stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Marasmius limosus is saprobic on dead, decaying leaf of Phragmites australis
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / spot causer
black, globose then elongated pycnidium of Stagonospora coelomycetous anamorph of Massarina arundinacea causes spots on dead, dry culm of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Massarina igniaria is saprobic on dry, scorched or burnt Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 8-12

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Tetraploa dematiaceous anamorph of Massarina tetraploa is saprobic on Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 1-12
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
pseudothecium of Massariosphaeria typhicola is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis

Foodplant / sap sucker
Metapolophium dirhodum sucks sap of live Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: summer

Foodplant / saprobe
conidioma of Microdiscula coelomycetous anamorph of Microdiscula phragmitis is saprobic on dead rhizome of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 6-11

Foodplant / saprobe
subiculate, sessile apothecium of Mollisia hydrophila is saprobic on dead, damp stem base of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 6-8

Foodplant / saprobe
sessile apothecium of Mollisia palustris is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3-9

Foodplant / saprobe
pycnothyrium of anamorph of Morenoina phragmitis is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 4-8

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Mycena belliae is saprobic on moribund stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, linearly arranged pseudothecium of Mycosphaerella lineolata is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
stalked, occasionally sessile sporodochium of Myrothecium dematiaceous anamorph of Myrothecium cinctum is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3-5
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
stalked sporodochium of Myrothecium dematiaceous anamorph of Myrothecium masonii is saprobic on Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial, scattered on in small groups, thinly subiculate perithecium of Nectria ellisii is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-12

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Niptera excelsior is saprobic on dead, wet stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Niptera lacustris is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 10

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Niptera pulla is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3-5

Foodplant / feeds on
Notaris bimaculatus feeds on stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Odacantha melanura feeds on Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Periconia atra is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 4-9

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Periconia digitata is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: mainly winter

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Periconia glyceriicola is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 12-4

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Periconia hispidula is saprobic on dry, dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Periconia minutissima is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent, subsessile apothecium of Perrotia distincta is saprobic on dead, standing stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 10-11

Foodplant / saprobe
pseudothecium of Phaeosphaeria albopunctata is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, initially immersed pseudothecium of Phaeosphaeria fuckelii is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: spring, summer

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, initially immersed pseudothecium of Phaeosphaeria graminis is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: spring, summer
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, initially immersed pseudothecium of Phaeosphaeria herpotrichoides is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: spring, summer

Foodplant / saprobe
pycnidium of Hendersonia coelomycetous anamorph of Phaeosphaeria vagans is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pycnidium of Phoma coelomycetous anamorph of Phoma arundinacea is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 2-10

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed perithecium of Phomatospora berkeleyi is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 2-9

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, scattered or gregarious apothecium of Phragmiticola rhopalospermum is saprobic on dead culm of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / open feeder
adult of Plateumaris braccata grazes on young leaf shoot of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-7(-10)
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Psathyrella typhae is saprobic on Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, immersed pycnidium of Pseudorobillarda coelomycetous anamorph of Pseudorobillarda phragmitis is saprobic on wet, dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 7

Foodplant / spot causer
immersed, crowded or in rows pycnidium of Pseudoseptoria coelomycetous anamorph of Pseudoseptoria donacis causes spots on sheath of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-7

Foodplant / parasite
long, narrow telium of Puccinia magnusiana parasitises live leaf sheath of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 7-5

Foodplant / parasite
telium of Puccinia phragmitis parasitises live leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 7-5

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Resinomycena saccharifera is saprobic on dead, decayed debris of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, covered the piercing, black pycnidium of Rhabdospora coelomycetous anamorph of Rhabdospora curva is saprobic on dead, dry culm of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 9

Foodplant / sap sucker
Rhopalosiphum insertum sucks sap of live Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: summer

Foodplant / saprobe
stalked, erumpent apothecium of Rutstroemia lindaviana is saprobic on dead, very rotting, fallen, locally blackened stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-9

Foodplant / saprobe
subepidermal, but splitting epidermis longitudinally stroma of Scirrhia rimosa is saprobic on dead leaf sheath of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / spot causer
gregarious, immersed pycnidium of Septoria coelomycetous anamorph of Septoria arundinacea causes spots on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: summer

Foodplant / saprobe
Sirozythiella coelomycetous anamorph of Sirozythiella sydowiana is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Sistotrema subtrigonospermum is saprobic on dead, decayed stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pycnidium of Stagonospora coelomycetous anamorph of Stagonospora cylindrica is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 9

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed then erumpent, black, shining pycnidium of Stagonospora coelomycetous anamorph of Stagonospora elegans is saprobic on dead, submerged stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 4-8

Foodplant / saprobe
pycnidium of Stagonospora coelomycetous anamorph of Stagonospora hysterioides is saprobic on dead Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
thinly subiculate apothecium of Tapesia evilescens is saprobic on dead stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 4-8

Foodplant / saprobe
extensively subiculate apothecium of Tapesia kneiffii is saprobic on dead stem base of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 5-8

Plant / resting place / on
fruitbody of Tomentella ellisii may be found on dead, decayed debris of Phragmites australis
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Helicosporium anamorph of Tubeufia paludosa is saprobic on dead leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 3-11

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Typhula capitata is saprobic on dead, decayed leaf of Phragmites australis
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Typhula subhyalina is saprobic on dying stem of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / parasite
embedded sorus of Ustilago grandis parasitises live culm of Phragmites australis

Foodplant / saprobe
embedded pseudothecium of Wettsteinina niesslii is saprobic on dead, wet stem of Phragmites australis
Remarks: season: 2

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: Perhaps the most widespread plant species on Earth, with numerous large, presumably native stands on all continents except Antarctica. In addition, at least in North America, novel (Eurasian?) genotypes have become widely established along the Atlantic Coast and in scattered inland sites where Phragmites was not previously known historically (Kristin Saltonstall, presentation to Botanical Society of Washington, 5 June 2001).

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General Ecology

Salinity and depth to the water table are among the factors which control the distribution and performance of Phragmites. Maximum salinity tolerances vary from population to population; reported maxima range from 12 ppt (1.2%) in Britain to 29 ppt in New York state to 40 ppt on the Red Sea coast (Hocking et al. 1983). Dense stands normally lose more water through evapotranspiration than is supplied by rain (Haslam 1970). However, rhizomes can reach down almost 2 meters below ground, their roots penetrating even deeper, allowing the plant to reach low lying ground water (Haslam 1970). Killing frosts may knock the plants back temporarily but can ultimately increase stand densities by stimulating bud development (Haslam 1968).

Phragmites has a low tolerance for wave and current action which can break its culms (vertical stems) and impede bud formation in the rhizomes (Haslam 1970). It can survive, and in fact thrive, in stagnant waters where the sediments are poorly aerated at best (Haslam 1970). Air spaces in the above-ground stems and in the rhizomes themselves assure the underground parts of the plant with a relatively fresh supply of air. This characteristic and the species' salinity tolerance allow it to grow where few others can survive (Haslam 1970). In addition the build up of litter from the aerial shoots within stands prevents or discourages other species from germinating and becoming established (Haslam 1971a). The rhizomes and adventitious roots themselves form dense mats that further discourage competitors. These characteristics are what enable Phragmites to spread, push other species out and form monotypic stands.

Such stands may alter the wetlands they colonize, eliminating habitat for valued animal species. On the other hand, the abundant cover of litter in Phragmites stands may provide habitat for some small mammals, insects and reptiles. The aerial stems provide nesting sites for several species of birds, and Song Sparrows have been seen eating Phragmites' seeds (Klockner, pers. comm. 1985). Muskrats (ONDATRA ZIBETHICUS) use Phragmites for emergency cover when low lying marshes are swept by storm tides and for food when better habitats are overpopulated (Lynch et al. 1947).

Studies conducted in Europe indicate that gall-forming and stem- boring insects may significantly reduce growth of Phragmites (Durska 1970; Pokorny 1971). Skuhravy (1978) estimated that roughly one-third of the stems in a stand may be damaged reducing stand productivity by 10-20%. Mook and van der Toorn (1982) found yields were reduced by 25 to 60% in stands heavily infested with lepidopteran stem- or rhizome-borers. Hayden (1947) suggested that aphids (HYALOPTERUS PRUNI) heavily damaged a Phragmites stand in Iowa. On the other hand work in Europe by Pintera (1971) indicated that although high densities of aphids may bring about reductions in Phragmites shoot height and leaf area they had little effect on shoot weight. Like other emergent macrophytes, Phragmites has tough leaves and appears to suffer little grazing by leaf-chewing insects (Penko 1985).

As mentioned above, there is great concern about recent declines in Phragmites in Europe where the species is still used for thatch. In fact, the journal Aquatic Botany devoted an entire issue (volume 35 no.1, September 1989) to this subject. Factors believed responsible for the declines include habitat destruction and manipulation of hydrologic regimes by humans, grazing, sedimentation and decreased water quality (eutrophication) (Ostendorp 1989).

Detailed reviews of the ecology and physiological ecology of Phragmites are provided by Haslam (1972; 1973) and Hocking et al. (1983) and an extensive bibliography is provided by van der Merff et al. (1987).

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: density, frequency, fuel, litter, marsh, oligohaline, peat, prescribed fire, rhizome

Common reed stands are not usually difficult to burn. Fuel loads are generally high, and only in recently burned sites does fire fail to spread. Additional information on fuel loadings in common reed stands is available in Fuels. Prescribed fires during very dry conditions or in conjunction with other control methods have been used successfully to reduce the size and/or spread of common reed stands. However, adverse impacts on wildlife are possible when burning common reed stands.

Conducting prescribed fire: Several challenges could make prescribed burning in common reed habitats difficult. High-intensity updrafts are possible in wetland habitats, and embers may move long distances [188]. Spot fires are possible 100 feet (30 m) from the burned area [228]. Firelines may need to be wider than those typically constructed in upper Midwest upland habitats. Maneuverability of water tanks can be compromised in wetlands and may increase the number of personnel needed to control fires in common reed habitats [188].

On Cape Hatteras National Seashore, prescribed fires burned in flooded conditions, and "wetline(s)" were constructed simply by trampling neighboring vegetation [31]. Although fires typically carry well in common reed habitats, there may be insufficient litter and dead material to burn in consecutive years. A 2nd winter fire was unsuccessful in the Nebraska Sandhills 1 year after a prescribed fire in common reed marsh due to sparse stems and a lack of accumulated litter. Common reed on the previously burned site "did not appear nearly as combustible as the old growth even when the flame was applied directly" [199].

The only study to report soil temperatures produced by prescribed fires in common reed habitats indicates that heat does not penetrate deeply. In a common reed stand in Utah's Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area, an early-September fire produced temperatures of 120 °F (48 °C) at 9.3 inches (23.7 cm) deep, 219 °F (104 °C) at 3 inches (7.7 cm) deep, 306 °F (152 °C) at 1.1 inch (3 cm) deep, and a high temperature of 399 °F (204 °C) penetrated only 0.2 inch (0.5 cm). The fire burned when wind speeds averaged 10.3 miles (16.6 km)/hour, the average dew point was 41 °F (5 °C), and the maximum daytime temperature was 83 °F (28.5 °C). Drawdown began in April on the burned sites, but canal leakage and precipitation were such that water pooled in pits [207].

Fire as a control method: Severe, deep-burning fires may kill common reed [208], and removal of thick common reed litter by fire may allow other species to establish [228]. In Atlantic Coast marshes, "root burns" and "peat fires" can be used to cause common reed rhizome mortality. "Root burns" require a completely dry marsh floor. "Peat fires" require several years of litter accumulation, a "fairly deep" peat layer, and drought conditions to sustain smoldering and deep burning [208].

In the early 1940s, spring and late-summer fires were used in the Delta Marsh to create open water sites, thin dense stands, and increase edge habitats, in order to benefit wildlife. Successful spring fires required a "stiff" wind and 2 to 3 days of warm, sunny weather to dry dead stems [237]. Spring fires during "dull days" often did not carry well and produced patchy burns [238]. With enough wind, fires would burn even when there was snow and/or water at the base of the plants. Spring fires did not usually damage common reed rhizomes and served to increase the proportion of edge habitat. Late-summer fires typically burned deep into the peat layer producing some rhizome mortality and creating open water in common reed stands. Successful summer fires required dry conditions, a dense stand, and sustained smoldering. Summer fires were typically set in late August or early September [237].

Fire in conjunction with other physical, mechanical, or chemical control methods may produce common reed mortality [3,18,31,155,171]. On Cape Hatteras National Seashore, repeated cutting of common reed on burned sites decreased its growth rate but did not cause mortality [31]. In the Stemmers Run Wildlife Management Area in Cecil County, Maryland, common reed abundance was reduced on sites that were burned 4 months after herbicide treatments. In the 4th posttreatment year, there were 275 common reed individuals in the total 58 quadrats (3.16 ×0.32 m) on treated sites. The number of individuals before treatments was 878 [3]. In oligohaline, wind-tide marshes in southeastern Virginia, common reed density and frequency were significantly reduced when sites were treated with a dormant-season fire between 2 herbicide treatments late in the growing season (P-value not reported). Herbicide treatments alone did not produce significant decreases from pretreatment levels [44].

Flooding burned sites can produce common reed mortality by eliminating oxygen transport from aboveground plant structures to roots and rhizomes [18]. "Snorkels are snipped" when burned sites are flooded (Gallagher, personal communication, cited in [18]). Several studies report this effect, though none provided details about fire or flooding conditions. In sawgrass-common reed vegetation in Louisiana coastal marshes, postfire flooding with saline water can produce mortality and reduce stand density [171]. In Connecticut, late-spring fires followed by saltwater flooding decreased the height and density of common reed stands (Steinki 1992, personal communication, cited in [155]). On the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in New York, common reed was eliminated for at least 3 years when portions of a freshwater impoundment were reflooded after winter burning that followed fall draining (Parris 1991, personal communication, cited in [155]).

Wildlife considerations: Fires in common reed marshes can be used to benefit wildlife, but can also negatively impact nesting birds. Prescribed fires should avoid destroying currently used nesting habitat. Studies conducted in the 1960s and 1970s in the Delta Marsh indicated that spring fires before 20 April typically missed the beginning of mallard and northern pintail nesting. Impacts on nesting birds can be minimized if summer fires are ignited after gadwall and blue-winged teal have left their nests [238]. Fall fires can decrease snow retention and affect spring run off levels, which may affect the value of winter and spring wildlife habitats [239].

  • 3. Ailstock, M. Stephen; Norman, C. Michael; Bushmann, Paul J. 2001. Common reed Phragmites australis: control and effects upon biodiversity in freshwater nontidal wetlands. Restoration Ecology. 9(1): 49-59. [68716]
  • 18. Bart, David. 1997. The use of local knowledge in understanding ecological change: a study of salt hay farmers' knowledge of Phragmites australis invasion. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University. 139 p. Thesis. [69493]
  • 31. Boone, Jim L.; Furbish, C. Elaine; Turner, Kent. 1987. Control of Phragmites communis: results of burning, cutting, and covering with plastic in a North Carolina salt marsh. CPSU Technical Report 41. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology, Cooperative Park Studies Unit. 15 p. [68794]
  • 44. Clark, Kennedy H. 1998. Use of prescribed fire to supplement control of an invasive plant, Phragmites australis, in marshes of southeast Virginia. In: Pruden, Teresa L.; Brennan, Leonard A., eds. Fire in ecosystem management: shifting the paradigm from suppression to prescription: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1996 May 7-10; Boise, ID. No. 20. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 140. [35620]
  • 155. Marks, Marianne; Lapin, Beth; Randall, John. 1994. Phragmites australis (P. communis): threats, management, and monitoring. Natural Areas Journal. 14(4): 285-294. [26678]
  • 171. O'Neil, Ted. 1949. The muskrat in the Louisiana coastal marshes. New Orleans, LA: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Fish and Game Division, Federal Aid Section. 152 p. [18182]
  • 199. Schlichtemeier, Gary. 1967. Marsh burning for waterfowl. In: Proceedings, 6th annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1967 March 6-7; Tallahassee, FL. No. 6. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 40-46. [16450]
  • 207. Smith, Loren Michael. 1983. Effects of prescribed burning on the ecology of a Utah marsh. Logan, UT: Utah State University. 159 p. Dissertation. [10218]
  • 208. Smith, Robert H. 1942. Management of salt marshes on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Transactions, 7th North American Wildlife Conference. 7: 272-277. [14505]
  • 228. Tu, Mandy; Hurd, Callie; Randall, John M., eds. 2001. Weed control methods handbook: tools and techniques for use in natural areas. Davis, CA: The Nature Conservancy. 194 p. [37787]
  • 237. Ward, Edward. 1942. Phragmites management. Transactions, 7th North American Wildlife Conference. 7: 294-298. [14959]
  • 238. Ward, P. 1968. Fire in relation to waterfowl habitat of the delta marshes. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 255-267. [18932]
  • 239. Ward, Peter. 1974. Fires in the marsh. Manitoba Nature. Summer: 16-27. [19484]
  • 188. Robertson, Morgan M. 1997. Prescribed burning as a management and restoration tool in wetlands of the upper Midwest. In: Restoration and reclamation review: Student on-line journal (Hort 5015/5071): Vol. 2-spring 1997: restoration techniques. Available: http://www.hort.agri.umn.edu/h5015/97papers/robertson.html [2007, December 18]. [68900]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, density, fire frequency, frequency, litter, marsh, peat, prescribed fire, series, swale, wildfire

The majority of fire studies indicate that common reed postfire abundance (cover, biomass
production, and/or density) is rarely different from prefire abundance by the 2nd
or 3rd postfire year [2,238]. It is not uncommon for burned sites to have greater
common reed abundance than unburned sites [88,221]. Common reed abundance may
decrease after summer fires, but decreases are likely short-lived; however, postfire
measurements beyond the 3rd postfire year are rare [53,238]. This pattern is
illustrated by reports from Utah, Manitoba, Virginia, North Carolina, and Delaware.
These studies were conducted in a small portion of common reed's range. While the
response to fire may be similar in other areas, additional studies are needed. There
is also a lack of information of the effects of repeated fire in common reed habitats.

Utah: Common reed density increased after
some summer and a late spring prescribed fires in the Fish Springs National Wildlife
Refuge of Utah, but density was nearly 5 times lower in the first postfire year after
the most severe summer fire. Fires killed over 90% of aboveground stems on all burned
sites. Common reed density was greater in the first postfire year after fires on 15
June, 9 August, and 24 August and lower after fires on 29 June, 13 July, and 27 July.
Decreased density after the 29 June, 13 July, and 27 July fires was not apparent at the
end of the first postfire growing season, suggesting some delayed mortality. Common
reed stem heights 1 year after fire were less than half of prefire heights on nearly all
burns. On unburned plots, common reed density increased slightly from the prefire to the
first postfire year, suggesting normal growing conditions. The prescribed fire of 13
July was the most severe and resulted in the largest decrease in common reed density.
Peat soils smoldered for weeks and damage to rhizomes was noted. Below is a summary of
common reed stem height and density on burned and unburned plots [53].
Prefire, postfire, and unburned common reed
stem heights and densities [53]
Fire date (1981)Live stem height (cm)Density (live stems/m²)
PrefireEnd of first postfire growing seasonFollowing JunePrefireEnd of first postfire growing seasonFollowing June
15 June16813781304044
29 June17212361528436
13 July 20412646514912
27 July2159476636245
9 August2349690417492
24 August1777499925993
Unburned
Control 1246247138605064
Control 2163190114403842
Control 3207218144403447

Delta Marsh, Manitoba: Fire research in
the Delta Marsh indicates that common reed density tends to be greater on burned
than unburned sites regardless of fire season [88,221]. Decreases in common
reed density were only reported after summer fires during dry conditions, and
decreases were short-lived [238].
Common reed's shoot density and aboveground biomass were greater in the first
postfire year after fall and spring fires than on unburned Delta Marsh sites, and
common reed growth and reproductive development began earlier on burned than
unburned sites. The fall fire removed almost all aboveground material, blackened
the soil, but consumed little to no topsoil. Marshes were wet during the spring
fire and there were unburned patches within the burned area. Fuels were not
measured before either fire, but nearby unburned plots contained abundant dead
plant material consisting of previous year's stems up to 7 feet (2 m) tall, and a
litter layer almost 2 feet (0.5 m) deep [88]. Conditions during the fall and
spring fires are provided below.
Conditions during fall and spring fires in the
Delta Marsh [88]
 Fall fire
(mid-October)
Spring fire
(mid-April)
Air temperatures
(daytime high/nighttime low)
16 °C/-5 °C13 °C/-5 °C
Wind speeds5.5-19 km/h5.5-19 km/h
Relative humidity26-94%27-100%

The first postfire growing season was warmer and 142% wetter than normal from
April to August. The water table on fall-burned sites was 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the
soil surface, on spring-burned sites was up to 15 inches (38 cm) below the surface, and
on unburned sites was 20 inches (50 cm) below the surface. Common reed emerging
after fire had some scorching but survived to maturity. Common reed density was
greatest on fall-burned sites and averaged more than twice that of spring-burned
and unburned sites. Aboveground biomass averaged 791 and 734 g/m² on fall-burned,
588 and 785 g/m² on spring-burned, and 402 to 423 g/m² on unburned sites. Average
flowering shoot density was 20 to 30 stems/m² greater on fall-burned than unburned
sites. Flowering was earliest on fall-burned sites, about a week later on spring-burned
sites, and about 2 weeks later on unburned sites [88].
Common reed plants were slightly smaller but density was greater on burned
than unburned sites in the Delta Marsh after spring, summer, and fall prescribed fires.
Summer (1 August) and fall (7 October) fires burned in a year of periodic flooding,
and the spring fire (11 May) burned in a year when sites were not flooded. Fires
removed more than 90% of living and dead material in common reed stands and produced
soil surface temperatures of 480 to 930 °F (250-500 °C). Postfire measurements were
made about 3 to 4 months after the spring fire, 1 year after the summer fire, and 10 to 11
months after the fall fire. Common reed shoots emerged 19 May on spring-burned, 1 May on
summer- and fall-burned, and 26 May on unburned sites. Regardless of burn season, common
reed vegetative shoot density was at least 5 times greater on burned than unburned sites
(P<0.05). The density, biomass, and proportion of flowering shoots were lower
on summer- and fall-burned than unburned sites. These values were not different between
spring-burned and unburned sites. Total aboveground common reed biomass was significantly
greater on spring-burned, significantly lower on summer-burned, and not significantly
different on fall-burned sites when compared to unburned sites (P<0.05).
Community richness, evenness, and diversity increased on summer-burned plots [222].
Researchers thought that litter removal allowed for increased shoot density [221,222].
Information on these fires' effects on soil nutrients, soil temperatures, and aboveground plant
nutrients is available from Thompson [223].
Average growth characteristics of unburned and
burned common reed stands [221,222]
 UnburnedSpring burnedFall burned Summer burned
Time since fireNA3-4 months10-11 months1 year
Aboveground characteristics
Flowering shoots
Height (cm)191.3a179.0b161.5c141.1d
Basal diameter (mm)6.6b7.1a6.7ab5.7c
Inflorescence length (cm)16.9a17.1a13.8b12.9b
Leaf length (cm)34.1a34.1a32.0b31.6b
Leaf number 14.3a13.6b13.8ab13.4b
Density (shoots/m²)27.2ab35.8a16.0b6.2c
Biomass (g/m²)445.6a431.9a166.2b49.1c
Vegetative shoots
Height (cm)182.5a151.3bc163.0b140.2c
Basal diameter (mm)5.2bc5.2bc6.1a5.0c
Density (shoots/m²)17.5a106.7b105.8b102.5b
Biomass (g/m²)187.3a482.6bc575.2b367.8c
Belowground characteristics
Standing crop (g/m²)1,097b1,880a1,865a1,208b
Bud density (buds/m²)89b206a210a115b
Different letters are significantly different
(P<0.05) by fire treatment.

Two other summer fires in the Delta Marsh produced decreases in common reed
density and stem height, and prefire density was regained by the 3rd postfire
year after only 1 of the 2 fires. The 1st summer fire burned on 14 July when
the air temperature was 90 °F (32 °C), and the wind speed was less than 15 miles
(24 km)/h. In May, before the fire, the area to be burned was drained in an effort
to make sites as dry as possible. Sprouts were visible within 5 days of the
fire. By the 1st postfire frost, common reed stand height was half that of
prefire height, and stem density was 66% less than prefire density. Prefire
stand height and density were regained by the 3rd postfire year.

The 2nd fire burned on 21 July in a drained area. Again common reed sprouts were
present 5 days after the fire. Average stem height at the time of the first
postfire frost was 22.7 inches (57.7 cm), and stem heights on a nearby unburned
site were 84.2 inches (214 cm). The average number of common reed stems in a 22
× 14 inch (56 × 36 cm) frame was 29.6 on unburned sites and 5.7 in the 1st
postfire year on burned sites. Common reed height and density were lower in burned
than unburned sites in the 3rd postfire year [238]. These fires likely burned
during much drier conditions than the summer fire described in the study above [221],
which burned in a year of periodic flooding. Increased substrate dryness may explain
the decreased common reed density after these summer fires. Also the researcher
noted an increased use of burned areas by ducks and common muskrats after the 2
summer fires [238], whereas postfire grazing was not noted in the above study [221].
Mid-Atlantic Coast: Fall and
spring fires did not significantly affect common reed abundance in Virginia and
North Carolina. Relative common reed cover on burned and nearby similar unburned
sites were not different 2 years after a 23 November prescribed fire in dune swale
communities on Wallops Island, Virginia [2]. Common reed density was slightly
lower, though not significantly, on burned than unburned plots after a late-April
fire in common reed stands on Cape Hatteras National Seashore [31].
Comparisons of the establishment and spread of common reed populations were
made from time series maps of the mid-Atlantic coast. At only 1 of 6 sites, Lang
Tract, Delaware, did common reed abundance decrease for any length of time. Common
reed was not present on a 1982 map likely due to a prescribed or wildfire. On a
1989 map, common reed was again dominant [143]. The fire was not described.
Repeated fire: Information on the
effect of repeated fires in common reed habitats is lacking. Most landowners
noted that common reed's introduction and spread on the salt hay farms in
Commercial Township, New Jersey, coincided with Hurricane Hazel (1954); however,
one individual noted that common reed's spread rate increased as fire frequency
in the area decreased. It was not presumed that reduced fire frequency was the
single or even primary reason for increased spread of common reed. Salt hay farms
were, however, burned frequently in winter fires prior to the hurricane. The lack
of information on the effects of repeated fire in common reed habitats makes it
unclear whether or not repeated fire could decrease the spread of common reed [18].
Climate/weather: Research from the
Netherlands and Britain indicate that climatic conditions during and after fires
can affect the postfire development of common reed. In Britain, winter fires
typically encourage early spring emergence, and spring fires can increase common
reed stand density [99]. In Flevoland, the Netherlands, postfire frost damage was
most severe on dry-burned sites. Greater decreases in standing dead material and
litter on dry sites allowed for colder minimum temperatures than on wet-burned
and unburned plots [226].
  • 2. Ailes, Marilyn Carol. 1993. Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex. Steud. community response to fire. Princess Anne, MD: University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. 144 p. Thesis. [68806]
  • 18. Bart, David. 1997. The use of local knowledge in understanding ecological change: a study of salt hay farmers' knowledge of Phragmites australis invasion. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University. 139 p. Thesis. [69493]
  • 31. Boone, Jim L.; Furbish, C. Elaine; Turner, Kent. 1987. Control of Phragmites communis: results of burning, cutting, and covering with plastic in a North Carolina salt marsh. CPSU Technical Report 41. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology, Cooperative Park Studies Unit. 15 p. [68794]
  • 53. Cross, Diana Harding. 1983. Wildlife habitat improvement by control of Phragmites communis with fire and herbicide. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 81 p. Thesis. [18403]
  • 88. Greenall, Jason Andrew. 1995. First-year regrowth of three marsh plant communities after fall and spring fires in the Delta Marsh, Manitoba. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba. 122 p. Thesis. [68804]
  • 99. Haslam, S. M. 1968. The biology of reed (Phragmites communis) in relation to its control. In: Proceedings of the 9th British weed control conference; Brighton, UK: British Crop Protection Council: 392-397. [16860]
  • 143. Lathrop, Richard G.; Windham, Lisamarie; Montesano, Paul. 2003. Does Phragmites expansion alter the structure and function of marsh landscapes? Patterns and processes revisited. Estuaries. 26(2B): 423-435. [68737]
  • 221. Thompson, D. J.; Shay, J. M. 1985. The effects of fire on Phragmites australis in the Delta Marsh, Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany. 63: 1864-1869. [11481]
  • 222. Thompson, D. J.; Shay, Jennifer M. 1989. First-year response of a Phragmites marsh community to seasonal burning. Canadian Journal of Botany. 67: 1448-1455. [7312]
  • 223. Thompson, Donald James. 1981. Effects of fire on Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel and associated species at Delta Marsh, Manitoba. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba. 199 p. Thesis. [51761]
  • 226. Toorn, J. van der; Mook, J. H. 1982. The influence of environmental factors and management on stands of Phragmites australis. I. Effect of burning, frost and insect damage on shoot density and shoot size. Journal of Applied Ecology. 19: 477-499. [16320]
  • 238. Ward, P. 1968. Fire in relation to waterfowl habitat of the delta marshes. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 255-267. [18932]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, marsh, rhizome

Common reed sprouts rapidly from surviving rhizomes after fire. Sprouts may appear as soon as 5 days after fire [238]. Rarely is common reed abundance decreased by fire, and postfire recovery is typically rapid. At the end of the first season after fall and spring fires in the Delta Marsh of Manitoba, common reed shoots showed evidence of some scorching but survived to maturity. Fire-caused apical bud mortality was minimal [88]. If rhizomes are damaged or killed, common reed abundance may be reduced temporarily and/or recovery may be delayed [135], (review by [228]). Literature from northern mixed-grass prairies suggests summer fires (June-August) on dry substrates when plant nutrient reserves are low may burn into the organic soil and reduce common reed density through rhizome death or damage [135].

New common reed establishment on burned sites is possible if a viable seed or rhizome source exists. Seedling establishment is possible from on-site seed sources, but information on common reed seed banking is sparse. Establishment from rhizome fragments may be more successful than establishment from seed. Common reed plants established from rhizome pieces but not from seeds on burned soil in greenhouse and field studies conducted in Stemmers Run Wildlife Management Area, Maryland. Buried rhizomes had 100% survival in burned soils in the greenhouse. In the field, survival of sprouts from rhizomes on burned sites was 10%. Although no seedlings established on burned soils, 0.7% of seedlings established on bare mineral soil in the field [3]. For more information on common reed establishment from seeds or rhizomes, see Regeneration Processes.

  • 3. Ailstock, M. Stephen; Norman, C. Michael; Bushmann, Paul J. 2001. Common reed Phragmites australis: control and effects upon biodiversity in freshwater nontidal wetlands. Restoration Ecology. 9(1): 49-59. [68716]
  • 88. Greenall, Jason Andrew. 1995. First-year regrowth of three marsh plant communities after fall and spring fires in the Delta Marsh, Manitoba. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba. 122 p. Thesis. [68804]
  • 135. Kruse, Arnold D.; Higgins, Kenneth F. 1998. Effects of prescribed fire upon wildlife habitat in northern mixed-grass prairie. In: Alexander, M. E.; Bisgrove, G. F., tech. coords. The art and science of fire management: Proceedings of the 1st Interior West Fire Council annual meeting and workshop; 1988 October 24-27; Kananaskis Village, AB. Information Report NOR-X-309. Edmonton, AB: Forestry Canada, Northwest Region, Northern Forestry Centre: 182-193. [40285]
  • 228. Tu, Mandy; Hurd, Callie; Randall, John M., eds. 2001. Weed control methods handbook: tools and techniques for use in natural areas. Davis, CA: The Nature Conservancy. 194 p. [37787]
  • 238. Ward, P. 1968. Fire in relation to waterfowl habitat of the delta marshes. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 255-267. [18932]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the terms: formation, peat, rhizome

Research from England indicates that burning common reed breaks rhizome internal dormancy [103]. Slight scorching by spring fires in Britain increased rhizome bud formation by as much as 400% (Haslam 1969, cited in [99]). Fires that burn deep into peat layers and/or burn during very dry conditions may damage or cause some mortality of common reed rhizomes [135].
  • 99. Haslam, S. M. 1968. The biology of reed (Phragmites communis) in relation to its control. In: Proceedings of the 9th British weed control conference; Brighton, UK: British Crop Protection Council: 392-397. [16860]
  • 103. Haslam, Sylvia M. 1969. The development and emergence of buds in Phragmites communis Trin. Annals of Botany. 33: 289-301. [16685]
  • 135. Kruse, Arnold D.; Higgins, Kenneth F. 1998. Effects of prescribed fire upon wildlife habitat in northern mixed-grass prairie. In: Alexander, M. E.; Bisgrove, G. F., tech. coords. The art and science of fire management: Proceedings of the 1st Interior West Fire Council annual meeting and workshop; 1988 October 24-27; Kananaskis Village, AB. Information Report NOR-X-309. Edmonton, AB: Forestry Canada, Northwest Region, Northern Forestry Centre: 182-193. [40285]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Common reed is top-killed by fire, but rhizomes typically survive [103,135,238]. Although damage or death to common reed rhizomes is possible, it is not common.
  • 103. Haslam, Sylvia M. 1969. The development and emergence of buds in Phragmites communis Trin. Annals of Botany. 33: 289-301. [16685]
  • 135. Kruse, Arnold D.; Higgins, Kenneth F. 1998. Effects of prescribed fire upon wildlife habitat in northern mixed-grass prairie. In: Alexander, M. E.; Bisgrove, G. F., tech. coords. The art and science of fire management: Proceedings of the 1st Interior West Fire Council annual meeting and workshop; 1988 October 24-27; Kananaskis Village, AB. Information Report NOR-X-309. Edmonton, AB: Forestry Canada, Northwest Region, Northern Forestry Centre: 182-193. [40285]
  • 238. Ward, P. 1968. Fire in relation to waterfowl habitat of the delta marshes. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 255-267. [18932]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: ground residual colonizer, rhizome, secondary colonizer

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [214]:
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on- or off-site seed sources)
  • 214. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species comprising secondary plant succession in Northern Rocky Mountain forests. FEIS workshop: Postfire regeneration. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 10 p. [20090]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: cover, density, fen, fire frequency, fire regime, frequency, fuel, ground fire, hardwood, litter, low-severity fire, marsh, natural, oligohaline, peat, rhizome

Fire adaptations: After fire in established common reed stands, new stems normally sprout from surviving rhizomes. Rhizome damage from deep burning may reduce common reed density and/or increase recovery time; however, lethal temperatures penetrating deep into the soil are rare in wet to moist common reed habitats [88,207,208,238]. New establishment on burned sites is possible given a viable seed or rhizome source. For more information on common reed establishment from seeds or rhizomes, see Regeneration Processes. Additional information about common reed's response to fire is available in Fire Effects.

FIRE REGIMES: Fuels in common reed stands are conducive to flammability and fire spread. The high productivity and density of common reed stands provide fuel loads that are often higher than those of neighboring upland vegetation. In the upper Midwest, wetland fires can burn "hotter" and, given proper conditions, "faster" than fires in upland sites [188]. Common reed vegetation on the barrier islands of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain is considered "extremely flammable" in the winter and early spring [83]. On unburned sites in the Delta Marsh of south-central Manitoba, common reed litter can be 18 inches (46 cm) deep [239]. On Cape Hatteras National Seashore, researchers indicated that fire carried even in flooded conditions provided dry litter was present [31].

©Gary Fewless
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Pre- and early-settlement fires: Several studies report that Native people as well as early trappers and settlers burned wetland vegetation to improve travel, hunting success, and food availability.

California and Mexico: Native tribes of California burned common reed stands [8]. Rural people of Jaumave, Sierra Madre Oriental, Mexico, burned common reed stands to recycle nutrients, activate rhizomes, and reduce insect pests. Common reed sprouts were used as roofing and construction material [7].

Central Canada: In south-central Manitoba, Delta Marshes were intentionally burned by early trappers to improve travel, expose common muskrat lodges and coyote, fox, and American mink dens, and concentrate wildlife into unburned areas. Early settlers often burned Manitoba meadows to improve forage quality. Meadow fires often escaped and burned adjacent marshes. Burning was usually conducted in the first warm days of spring. Spring fires maintained common reed cover since they restricted the growth of encroaching woody vegetation and rarely killed belowground structures. Summer fires created temporary openings in common reed stands when they burned into peat and damaged rhizomes [238].

Southeast: Trappers burned marshes in southeastern Louisiana to improve trap accessibility and encourage growth of preferred common muskrat foods such as common reed. Fires typically burned when soils were wet and caused only minimal damage to marsh vegetation. Fires set after an extended drought, when peat and/or humus layers were dry, burned "furiously" [178]. In the southeastern United States, presettlement fire frequencies in brackish (5,000-30,000 ppm) and oligohaline (300-5,000 ppm) marshes that are typical common reed habitat ranged from 7 to more than 300 years; but fire intervals longer than 100 years were rare, and nearly all wetland sites including some islands had evidence of past fire. Fire frequency was estimated through a synthesis of information on soils, salinity, landscapes, remnant vegetation, historical records, and fire behavior in adjacent upland vegetation. Fires may have originated from burning in upland sites, lightning strikes, ignitions by Native Americans, or spontaneous combustion [76,77].

Spontaneous combustion was reported in marshlands along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain near Mandeville, Louisiana. Witnesses watched a fire "apparently ignited spontaneously" on 4 August 1924 in a time of "unprecedented drought". Water levels were several feet below the soil surface, and temperatures in neighboring towns were 100 to 104 °F (38-40 °C). Additional investigations in the area revealed that at least 100 separate fires were burning along an 18-mile stretch of marsh and pine vegetation. Other possible ignition sources were ruled out due to accessibility and timing constraints. Weather reports indicated that heating and ignition conditions necessary for spontaneous agricultural fires occurred that day near Lake Pontchartrain. Other naturalists in the area suggested that ignition may have come from a creeping ground fire [234].

Northeast: In New England and possibly other areas, proximity to a railroad may have increased fire frequency in common reed stands. Paleoecological studies in the Crystal Fen of north-central Maine showed that fire frequency increased after the construction of a railroad in 1893, then decreased sharply as spark-throwing steam engines were replaced by diesel engines [120]. In Massachusetts, 25% of all forest fires between 1916 and 1920 reportedly resulted from train engine ignitions (Averill and Frost 1933, cited in [120]).

Recent FIRE REGIMES: There is little information on current FIRE REGIMES in common reed habitats. Where common reed has spread into previously unoccupied areas, fuel characteristics may have changed and may contribute to changes in fire regimes. However, as of this writing (2008) these changes were not documented in the literature. On the southwestern portion of Long Island, New York, common reed and northern bayberry dominate Floyd Bennett Field. Portions of the Field burn each year in accidental human-caused fires. Common reed will probably replace northern bayberry, which does not recover as rapidly as common reed after fire [189]. From 1993 to 1998, there were 0 to 6 fires/year in the Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast Chenier Plain in southwestern Louisiana. Common reed cover is typically less than 10% in this area (Hess unpublished data, cited in [78]).

The following table provides fire regime information that may be relevant to common reed. Communities included in the table are those where common reed has the greatest potential as a persistent species. Since FIRE REGIMES typical of common reed stands may be closely related to FIRE REGIMES in adjacent upland communities, readers may want to review the complete FEIS Fire Regime Table.

Fire regime information on vegetation communities in which common reed may occur. For each community, fire regime characteristics are taken from the LANDFIRE Rapid Assessment Vegetation Models [141]. These vegetation models were developed by local experts using available literature, local data, and/or expert opinion as documented in the PDF file linked from the name of each Potential Natural Vegetation Group listed below. Cells are blank where information is not available in the Rapid Assessment Vegetation Model.
Pacific Northwest California Southwest Great Basin Northern Rockies
Northern Great Plains Great Lakes Northeast South-central US Southern Appalachians
Southeast        
Pacific Northwest
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northwest Grassland
Marsh Replacement 74% 7    
Mixed 26% 20    
Alpine and subalpine meadows and grasslands Replacement 68% 350 200 500
Mixed 32% 750 500 >1,000
California
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
California Grassland
Herbaceous wetland Replacement 70% 15    
Mixed 30% 35    
Wet mountain meadow-Lodgepole pine (subalpine) Replacement 21% 100    
Mixed 10% 200    
Surface or low 69% 30    
Southwest
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Southwest Forested
Riparian forest with conifers Replacement 100% 435 300 550
Riparian deciduous woodland Replacement 50% 110 15 200
Mixed 20% 275 25  
Surface or low 30% 180 10  
Great Basin
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Great Basin Grassland
Great Basin grassland Replacement 33% 75 40 110
Mixed 67% 37 20 54
Mountain meadow (mesic to dry) Replacement 66% 31 15 45
Mixed 34% 59 30 90
Northern Rockies
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northern Rockies Shrubland
Riparian (Wyoming)
Mixed 100% 100 25 500
Northern Great Plains
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northern Plains Woodland
Northern Great Plains wooded draws and ravines Replacement 38% 45 30 100
Mixed 18% 94    
Surface or low 43% 40 10  
Great Plains floodplain Replacement 100% 500    
Great Lakes
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Great Lakes Forested
Great Lakes floodplain forest
Mixed 7% 833    
Surface or low 93% 61    
Northeast
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Northeast Grassland
Northern coastal marsh Replacement 97% 7 2 50
Mixed 3% 265 20  
South-central US
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
South-central US Forested
Southern floodplain Replacement 42% 140    
Surface or low 58% 100    
Southern Appalachians
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Southern Appalachians Forested
Bottomland hardwood forest Replacement 25% 435 200 >1,000
Mixed 24% 455 150 500
Surface or low 51% 210 50 250
Mixed mesophytic hardwood Replacement 11% 665    
Mixed 10% 715    
Surface or low 79% 90    
Southeast
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Southeast Grassland
Southeast Gulf Coastal Plain Blackland prairie and woodland Replacement 22% 7    
Mixed 78% 2.2    
Everglades sawgrass Replacement 96% 3 2 15
Surface or low 4% 70    
Floodplain marsh Replacement 100% 4 3 30
Pond cypress savanna Replacement 17% 120    
Mixed 27% 75    
Surface or low 57% 35    
Southern tidal brackish to freshwater marsh Replacement 100% 5    
Gulf Coast wet pine savanna Replacement 2% 165 10 500
Mixed 1% 500    
Surface or low 98% 3 1 10
Southeast Shrubland
Pocosin Replacement 1% >1,000 30 >1,000
Mixed 99% 12 3 20
Southeast Woodland
Atlantic wet pine savanna Replacement 4% 100    
Mixed 2% 175    
Surface or low 94% 4     
Southeast Forested
Maritime forest Replacement 18% 40   500
Mixed 2% 310 100 500
Surface or low 80% 9 3 50
Southern floodplain Replacement 7% 900    
Surface or low 93% 63    
*Fire Severities:
Replacement=Any fire that causes greater than 75% top removal of a vegetation-fuel type, resulting in general replacement of existing vegetation; may or may not cause a lethal effect on the plants.
Mixed=Any fire burning more than 5% of an area that does not qualify as a replacement, surface, or low-severity fire; includes mosaic and other fires that are intermediate in effects
Surface or low=Any fire that causes less than 25% upper layer replacement and/or removal in a vegetation-fuel class but burns 5% or more of the area. [93,140].
  • 7. Anderson, Kat. 1991. Wild plant management: cross-cultural examples of the small farmers of Jaumave, Mexico, and the southern Miwok of the Yosemite region. Arid Lands Newsletter. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona, Office of Arid Lands Studies. 31: 18-23. [17350]
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Successional Status

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More info for the terms: bog, climax, cover, density, fen, haplotype, marsh, natural, peat, presence, rhizome, shrubs, succession, swamp

Common reed is considered both a pioneer and a climax species. It regenerates and establishes well on disturbed sites and is often considered a weedy or nuisance species. Generally, common reed is shade intolerant, appears early in primary open water succession, and sprouts rapidly after top-killing disturbances.

General descriptions: In marsh successions, common reed may be present in any seral stage from pioneer to climax. In the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge of Juab County, Utah, common reed's presence could result from an invasion into any seral stage of marsh/meadow community development or could represent any seral stage in regular succession from pioneer to climax [30,53]. In south-central Manitoba's Delta Marshes, common reed regenerates rapidly after disturbances and is considered a climax species [238,239].

Several researchers and systematists have described common reed as "weedy" and "invasive" [111,184,230]. Common reed is often described as characteristic of disturbed sites [63,216,256]. These descriptions have been applied to both the native and nonnative common reed haplotypes. For a discussion on where the nonnative haplotype is most common, see Subspecies, variety, and haplotype distributions, and for differences between native and nonnative haplotype growth, see Native and nonnative seedling growth and Native and nonnative plant growth.

Shade tolerance: Common reed is most common in full sun or nearly full sun conditions [111]. A review reports that common reed height and density are lower in partial shade [133]. In the Crystal Fen of north-central Maine, common reed occurred in open and recently forested but not in long forested portions of the fen [120]. In England, common reed occurred in closed-canopy woodlands, but plants were "spare, short, and flaccid" [102].

Primary succession: Common reed is often present early in freshwater swamp succession in the Great Lakes area but may appear a bit later in salt marsh succession along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Vegetation development on open water in deep swamps, lakes, ponds, swales, and marshes is typically initiated with the establishment of submerged leaf species such as watermilfoil and/or bladderwort (Myriophyllum and Utricularia spp.) and closely followed by the establishment of floating leaf species including waterlily, buttercup, and/or pondweed (Nymphaea, Ranunculus, and Potamogeton spp.). Common reed typically establishes after the floating leaf stage. Eventually swamps may succeed to meadows or deciduous forest. This type of hydrosere succession is common in the Great Lakes area [66,75].

Four successional stages are recognized in salt marsh succession along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and common reed occurs in later stages that dominate as salinity and flooding decrease. The earliest successional stage is dominated by smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and experiences saltwater inundation for 20 hours/day. The 2nd stage is dominated by saltgrass where salinity ranges from 30,000 to 46,000 ppm, and the water table fluctuates 2 inches (5 cm) above or below the soil surface. Saltmeadow cordgrass dominates the 3rd stage, when salinities are 7,500 to 35,000 ppm, and water levels are 4 inches (10 cm) above or below the soil surface. Common reed is not typically present until the final stage of succession, when salinity levels drop to less than 21,000 ppm, and water levels are between 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) below and 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm) above the soil surface. The 3rd and 4th stages of salt marsh succession are considered edaphic climaxes. Sites may succeed to shrubs and eventually to deciduous forest on the Atlantic Coast, but on the Gulf Coast, true prairie is the theoretical climax [4].

Secondary succession: Disturbed sites are often habitat for common reed. If dominant before a top-killing disturbance, common reed rapidly sprouts from surviving underground rhizomes and dominates again. If absent before a disturbance and a propagule source exists, common reed often establishes on disturbed and temporarily bare sites. In the Adolph Rotondo Wildlife Reserve along the Palmer River in Massachusetts, wrack (mats primarily composed of vegetation litter) stranded in marsh turf suppressed common reed growth but once the wrack was removed, bare spots were rapidly colonized by common reed [163].

Natural disturbances: Grazing, fires, storms, and scouring are common disturbances in common reed habitats and often reduce the density and cover of common reed for a short time. Multiple disturbances or long-duration disturbances may produce longer-lived or more substantial decreases in common reed density and/or cover.

In Montana and Idaho, young common reed stems are palatable to both livestock and wildlife, and heavy grazing may decrease the size and extent of stands [92,94]. In the southern United States, grazing deferments of 60 to 90 days every 2 to 3 years are recommended if managing to keep common reed stands [145]. In the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge east of Toledo, Ohio, common reed cover was reduced by grazing and sediment disturbances. Grazing and soil disturbances were evaluated through the use of exclosures on the mudflat study site that eliminated goose and white-tailed deer grazing and by turning over the top 6 inches (15 cm) of soil to mimic the effects of a storm or floating ice sheet. Common reed cover was 0.2% in disturbed and grazed plots, 0.2% in disturbed and ungrazed plots, 0.8% in undisturbed, grazed plots, and 10% in undisturbed, ungrazed plots. Researchers indicated that grazing and sediment disturbances produced additive effects and significantly decreased common reed cover (P<0.001) [17]. In the Sandhills of Nebraska, common reed was important in only the least disturbed "relatively high quality" fen. Common reed did not occur in fens that had large areas mowed, hayed, and/or grazed or in a heavily cattle grazed fen that had been planted with nonnative species [32].

Fire is typically only a top-killing disturbance in common reed stands. New sprouts may appear in as few as 5 days after fire [238]. From studies and observations in England, Haslam [103] found that burning broke rhizome bud dormancy but that cutting had "little effect" on the internal dormancy of rhizomes. In bog forest succession in northern Minnesota, narrow-leaved cattail-common reed communities may replace forest vegetation when sites are flooded or when fires burn deep into the peat layer and water collects [210]. For a complete summary of common reed's response to fire, see Fire Effects.

Coastal storms often provide opportunities for common reed establishment and/or spread. On Wallops Island, Accomack County, Virginia, common reed rapidly colonized bare areas of sand deposited in a January storm. Common reed produced stolons up to 70 feet (20 m) long, and while some plants appeared "stressed", others had produced small patches of "healthy-looking" stems [2]. On the Virginia Coast Reserve, areas disturbed by thick mats of wrack washed up by storms or high water events are often colonized by common reed. It is possible that common reed rhizome pieces or seeds were present in the wrack (Truitt 1992, personal communication, cited in [155]). Hurricane Camille produced a short-lived decrease in common reed dominance along the Mississippi River Delta. Relative abundance of common reed "declined considerably after the hurricane; however, 1 year following the storm this plant showed practically no change in abundance." Water and soil salinity were higher for a short time after the hurricane [40].

On mid-Atlantic coast sites, new common reed patches were common within 20 feet (5 m) of creeks or drainages. While there was a high concentration of establishment along creek banks, spread was not concentrated along creek edges. Creek edges likely received heavy propagule dispersal pressure, but were not suitable for recruitment [143].

Anthropogenic disturbances: Common reed is often found on sites disturbed by human activities. Common reed was present on 24-year-old peat mine sites but was not present on 1-, 6-, or 10-year-old mine sites in Wainfleet Bog, southern Ontario. Sites had been cleared of all living vegetation, and peat up to 7 feet (2 m) deep was removed. Mined sites were left to regenerate naturally [125]. On Wallops Island, Accomack County, Virginia, Ailes [2] observed a "sharp rise in the extent" of common reed stands on areas bulldozed as a fire break. In wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay subestuaries, common reed abundance was substantially greater in developed areas than undeveloped areas [130].

Increases in the nonnative common reed haplotype have been related to increases in road, waterway, and housing construction. In salt marshes in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, there was a significant positive correlation between percentage of marsh perimeter from which woody vegetation had been removed and percentage of border dominated by the nonnative common reed haplotype (R²=0.9173, P<0.01). Removal of woody vegetation and development in the area typically decreased soil salinity and increased available nitrogen [204]. In Quebec, the nonnative common reed haplotype occurred in 1916 but was rare and restricted to shores of the St Lawrence River before the 1970s. Before 1950, 92% of common reed populations sampled were native. In early 2000, more than 95% of colonies sampled were nonnative. The nonnative haplotype was especially common along roads but also occurred in marshes. Researchers suggested that the nonnative increase was facilitated by times of low water in the St Lawrence River and draining, dredging, excavation, and landfill operations associated with agriculture, housing, and road construction [146].

Eleven of 15 constructed tidal wetlands in Virginia's Coastal Plain were colonized by common reed. Dramatic increases in common reed abundance typically did not occur until wetlands reached 6 years old. Wetlands (7-12 years old) with perimeter ditches had significantly less common reed than wetlands without perimeter ditches (P=0.046). Subtidal perimeter ditches may have restricted rhizome establishment and growth into interior wetlands [106]. When these wetlands were 10 to 15 years old, common reed had established or spread into another of the constructed wetlands, but abundance was lower on sites where common reed had been replaced by red maple (Acer rubrum) scrub [105].

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: cover, density, fresh, haplotype, marsh, perfect, rhizome, stolon

Common reed reproduces sexually from seed and vegetatively from stolons and rhizomes.

Local spread of common reed is predominantly through vegetative growth and regeneration, while establishment of new populations occurs through dispersal of seeds, rhizomes, and sod fragments. For example, on the Tailhandier Flats on Quebec's St Lawrence River, common reed increased its surface area occupied by 18% from 1980 to 2002. Researchers attributed an average of 88% of the spread to vegetative growth but suggested that new colonies were the result of seedling establishment [117]. Near the mouth of Delaware Bay, common reed moved into salt marshes through rhizome and stolon growth from more upland sites. Establishment from seed occurred in sparsely populated or bare patches within the marsh. Some bare site colonization may occur through vegetative growth, but vegetative colonization likely decreases as distance from an established population increases [251].

Reproductive mode affects the genetic makeup of common reed populations. In the Charles River Watershed of Massachusetts, the genetic makeup of clones that made up stands and stands that made up populations were evaluated. Stands were mosaics of different clones. Populations were closely related, but plants within populations were more closely related than plants from different populations. The researcher concluded that colonization was likely vegetative, and populations increased over a short time period [129].

Breeding system: Common reed produces male, female, and perfect flowers. Lower florets are staminate or sterile, and upper florets are pistillate or perfect [87,247].

Pollination: Cross pollination of common reed flowers is probably most common, but self pollination or agamospermy (seed production without fertilization) are also possible. In the laboratory, 5 of 16 native inflorescences and 2 of 4 nonnative inflorescences from populations in Rhode Island produced viable seed through either self pollination or agamospermy [138]. Some self pollination also occurred in common reed populations in Japan, although seed set was much lower for self-pollinated than cross-pollinated flowers [119].

Seed production: Many researchers indicate that common reed rarely produces viable seed [82,97,235], while others indicate that viable seed is produced at least sometimes in some locations. Voss [235] reported that "fertile seed is often not developed, (and common reed) customarily reproduces vegetatively". In Colorado, some common reed populations produced empty spikelets and were likely limited to vegetative regeneration [242]. Some researchers indicated that early frosts in the Delta Marsh of south-central Manitoba prevent successful seed production [150]; however, Shay and Shay [202] reported viable seed production in the Delta Marsh and observed seedlings on drying shorelines in the area. Ailstock (unpublished data, cited in [3]) reported that overwintering common reed inflorescences produced abundant viable seed. Common reed plants growing near the mouth of Delaware Bay produced 500 to 2,000 seeds/shoot [251]. Seed set averaged 9.7% and ranged from 0.1% to 59.6% for 12 common reed populations in southwestern Japan. Flowers from 2 cross-pollinated populations set 52.4% and 64.4% of seed. Self-pollinated flowers produced 2.8% and 8.9% of seed [119]. From common reed populations in St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, an average of 6.6% and a maximum of 27.1% of seeds were viable. From populations on the east tip of Laval Island, Quebec, an average of 2.7% and a maximum of 11.3% of seeds were viable. Based on the abundance of flowers produced/inflorescence, researchers estimated 350 to 800 viable seeds could be produced/inflorescence [154].

Viable seed production may be affected by site factors, but there is little information on the conditions necessary for successful common reed seed development. According to Cross and Fleming [52], common reed may need to reach 3 or 4 years old before producing viable seed. In Utah's Fish Spring National Wildlife Refuge, there are 2 distinct common reed communities. A dwarf community with limited rhizome growth occurring between greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus) and saltgrass vegetation may have established from seed. Within the marsh, common reed has substantial vegetative growth [30].

Seed dispersal: Common reed seeds are dispersed by wind [251] and water. Buoyancy of seeds from Germany and the Netherlands may be slightly less in stagnant than moving water. Ninety percent of seeds were still floating after 10 days in stagnant water and after 23 days in moving water. Half of seeds were floating after 32 days in stagnant and after 69 days in moving water, and 10% of seeds were still floating after 121 days in stagnant water and 124 days in moving water [232].

On salt hay (saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), and/or saltmeadow rush (Juncus gerardii)) farms in Commercial Township, New Jersey, common reed established only after Hurricane Hazel in 1954. It is likely that establishment occurred by seed brought by storm tides from Delaware. However, vegetative propagules may have also been carried in the storm [18]. Dispersal of vegetative propagules is common in some situations. For more information, see Vegetative dispersal.

Seed banking: Information on common reed seed banking is sparse; however, several studies report some common reed seedling emergence from soil seed banks. Although submersion often reduces emergence, it does not necessarily cause an immediate loss of viability [47,206].

Some studies and researchers indicate that common reed seed banks are small and/or short-lived [59,110]. A review by DiTomaso and others [59] reports that common reed seeds are short-lived under field conditions and that persistent seed banks are not produced. In wetlands of the Great Lakes area, common reed was present in the aboveground vegetation of all sites sampled, but no seedlings emerged from collected soils [110]. No common reed seedlings emerged from soil samples collected from back dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, but common reed was rare in the study area [13]. Common reed did not emerge from soils collected in July from marshes on Wisconsin's Green Bay where its relative abundance was up to 4.1%. Soil samples were collected before seed set in the current year in order to characterize the persistent seed bank [74].

Several studies report common reed emergence from soils collected in various communities, and emergence was usually greatest from unflooded soils collected in common reed vegetation. Twenty-five soil samples were collected in early April from 6 vegetation types in Utah's Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area. Sixty-four common reed seedlings/m² emerged from soil collected in common reed stands. From soil collected in hardstem bulrush (Scirpus acutus) and cattail (Typha spp.) stands, 2 and 4 common reed seedlings/m² emerged, respectively. There was no common reed emergence from soil collected in the other 3 vegetation types. When soil samples were submerged, no common reed seedlings emerged. Researchers noted that common reed emergence was low compared to other emergent vegetation, and there were no common reed seedlings on an unvegetated, recently drained mudflat in the study area [206]. Common reed seedlings emerged from soils collected in June from 8 cover types in the Delta Marsh. Seedling density was lowest (5 seedlings/m²) in soils collected from large bays and greatest (90 seedlings/m²) in soils from common reed-dominated vegetation. Large bays often had less than 3 feet (1 m) of standing water. Submergence of soils in the greenhouse also affected emergence; 398 common reed seedlings emerged in drawdown and 4 emerged in submerged (0.8-1.2 inches (2-3 cm)) conditions [177].

Common reed seeds can survive submergence. Emergence generally decreases in flooded conditions, but a short period of submersion may increase germination success. Of common reed seeds submerged in 12 inches (30 cm) of water in a canal in Prosser, Washington, 16%, 51%, and 54% germinated after 3, 6, and 9 months of submergence, respectively. Germination decreased to 5% and 1% germinated after 36 and 60 months of submergence, respectively. Mature seeds were collected in the field and stored for 1 year at room temperature before submergence treatments. After 60 months of dry storage and no submergence, 16% of common reed seed germinated [47]. Common reed seedlings established on a mudflat on northwestern Minnesota's Mud Lake National Wildlife Refuge, but seeds collected nearby did not germinate after wet, outdoor storage treatments. After 7 months of dry storage at room temperature, about half of the common reed seeds germinated. Germination decreased to about 30% after 8 months of dry, room temperature storage [98].

Germination: Warm temperatures, high light conditions, and low to moderate salinity levels on moist but not flooded sites are most conducive to successful common reed seed germination.

Stratification for 6 months at 39 °F (4 °C) was required for germination of common reed seed collected from the Delta Marsh. Under full light, all seeds germinated at alternating temperatures of 68 °F (20 °C) and 86 °F (30 °C) and 97% germinated at alternating temperatures of 59 °F (15 °C) and 77 °F (25 °C) [79].

Germination of common reed seed collected from the Delta Marsh was best on the soil surface in full light. The maximum germination rate was 52% in dark conditions. In full light, germination rates were 70% on the soil surface, 30% at 0.4 inch (1 cm) deep, and 12% at 1.6 inches (4 cm) deep. No common reed seedlings emerged when seeds were buried 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Optimal germination temperatures were maintained during burial experiments [79].

Common reed germination may be decreased at salinity levels greater than 5,000 ppm [36]. Seed from Meadow Pond and Little River Salt Marsh on the southern New Hampshire coast germinated at 35.5% in fresh water, 36.5% at 5,000 ppm salinity, and 11% at 20,000 ppm salinity. A single seed germinated at 30,000 ppm salinity, and no seed germinated at 35,000 ppm salinity [36]. Another study showed similar results, with 4% of seeds germinating in a salt-free environment, 36% at 2,000 ppm salinity, and 32% at 5,000 ppm salinity [79].

Oxygen is required for common reed germination; however, exposure to anoxic and high-salt conditions may increase germination once seeds are returned to salt-free environments and atmospheric oxygen levels. Without oxygen, common reed seeds collected near the mouth of Delaware Bay in November did not germinate in any salinity level from 0 to 40,000 ppm. At atmospheric oxygen levels, germination of common reed was reduced and inhibited at 25,000 and 40,000 ppm salinity, respectively. Germination increased with salinity levels of 5,000 and 10,000 ppm when oxygen levels were reduced to 5% and 10%. Seeds treated to high salinity levels and anoxic conditions had 60% germination (maximum for the study) when returned to atmospheric oxygen levels and fresh water [250,251].

Seedling establishment/growth: Common reed establishment from seed occurs on some sites [98,245], but mortality rates are high when seedlings are exposed to flooding, drought, salt, and freezing [52,102], (Hurlimann 1951, cited in [101]). Seedling sensitivities may limit establishment from seed to ideal site and weather conditions.

Common reed seedling survival is often low. In Stemmers Run Wildlife Management Area in Maryland, common reed established from seed on bare high marsh soils, but after 12 weeks survival was just 0.7%. Survival of seeds collected and grown in a greenhouse was 27% [3]. Research by Haslam [104] indicates that winter mortality is high for young common reed plants with only 1 to 3 shoots and no rhizome development and is low for plants with 10 to 12 shoots. Common reed seedlings growing for 2 to 4 seasons can have just 3 shoots and no horizontal rhizome growth or may have over 200 shoots, be up to 4.3 feet (1.3 m) tall, and occupy an area over 22 ft² (2 m²) [104].

Common reed seedling establishment is typically restricted to muddy sites with "just enough water". High water levels can drown or wash away seedlings, and too little moisture leads to desiccation. Once seedlings reach 5 to 6 inches (13-15 cm) tall they can typically survive flooding depths of 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) [210].

Warm temperatures, high light levels, and high phosphate levels can provide for "good" seedling growth. Based on research conducted in England, Haslam [104] reports that seedlings grow faster at 77 °F (25 °C) than at 59 °F (15 °C). In low light, seedlings appear small and weak. When phosphate levels are low, seedling growth is stunted [104].

Field sites suitable for seedling emergence are typically unflooded and unshaded. Common reed seedlings emerged in the Delta Marsh after flooded sites were drawn down to 12 inches (30 cm) below normal. Seedling recruitment in the field was compared to emergence from soil samples. The maximum seedling density was 25 seedlings/m² from soil samples and 20 seedlings/m² in the field. In the field, the largest number of common reed seedlings occurred in the draw down area with low common reed density. Seedling recruitment was lacking in dense common reed stands, and recruitment was low on sites with 500% to 600% moisture [245]. On salt hay farms in New Jersey, common reed established after Hurricane Hazel on bare areas that were inundated the longest and on newly constructed dikes and berms. However, whether or not this was establishment from seed or vegetative propagules is unknown [18].

Native and nonnative seedling growth: Common reed seedling establishment, growth, and mortality can vary among haplotypes. Native common reed seedlings suffered higher mortality, produced less below- and aboveground biomass, and were shorter than nonnative seedlings under low- and high-nutrient treatments. Researchers compared native and nonnative growth in an outdoor experiment with seeds collected from Ontario, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Delaware. After 1 month, 23% of native and 15% of nonnative seedlings died. All native seedlings from seed collected in Rhode Island died within 2 weeks. At the end of the experiment (about 9 months), 38% of native and 23% of nonnative seedlings were dead. In the high-nutrient treatment, nonnative seedlings produced significantly more rhizome biomass (x=113.8 g) than native seedlings (x=44.3 g) (P<0.0001). Native seedling stems were clustered around where the seed was planted, but nonnative stems were spread throughout. No native seedlings flowered, but 3 nonnative seedlings did. Above- and belowground biomass and number of shoots produced by nonnative seedlings were 2 to 4 times those of native seedlings in low- and high-nutrient treatments [198].

Average above- and belowground biomass, number of shoots, and shoot height of native and nonnative common reed seedlings [198]
  Low nutrients High nutrients
Native Nonnative Native Nonnative
Aboveground biomass (g) 14.3 51.7 84.3 183.5
Belowground biomass (g) 13.3 54.9 79 155.8
Number of shoots 12.2 27 44.3 86.5
Shoot height (cm) 67.1 99.9 99.2 115.4

Vegetative regeneration: Once established, common reed regeneration and spread are primarily through rhizome and sometimes stolon growth. A substantial amount of common reed establishment also occurs vegetatively through colony breakage and dispersal of rhizome fragments [3,210]. Vegetative growth allows common reed to spread into sites unsuitable for establishment from seeds. Common reed rhizome production and vegetative spread can be extensive. For additional information on the morphology, spatial distribution, and structure of common reed rhizomes and stolons, see General Botanical Characteristics.

Vegetative dispersal: Vegetative rhizome and stolon growth is the predominant method of common reed spread following establishment [235,242], but rhizome and sod fragments also provide for successful establishment. Rhizome fragments often establish and survive better than seeds [3], and young plants produced from rhizomes are generally less sensitive than seedlings. For more on the establishment of common reed from seeds, see Seedling establishment/growth.

Common reed is often dispersed through the transport of rhizome fragments and the movement of sod. Mechanical equipment operating in a common reed-dominated community had 69 rhizome buds in its tracks (Ailstock, personal observation, cited in [3]). Rhizome fragments with 2 to 3 nodes are often viable [52]. Small portions of common reed stands can be torn from river banks, float downstream, and reestablish. In Leech Lake, northern Minnesota, an entire common reed stand was dislodged by a storm. The stand moved and reestablished about 1 mile (1.6 km) from its original location [210].

Field and greenhouse studies suggest that the survival of common reed shoots produced by rhizome fragments is better than that from seeds. Buried rhizomes survived better than seeds when both were collected from Stemmers Run Wildlife Management Area, Maryland, and grown in the greenhouse and the field. Seedling survival in the greenhouse was 27% on bare soil. Rhizomes left on the soil surface did not establish in the field. All buried rhizomes survived in vegetated, burned, and bare soils in the greenhouse. In the field, buried rhizome survival was 10%, 30%, and 20% in burned, vegetated, and bare high-marsh soils, respectively. In the field, establishment from seed occurred in areas of exposed mineral soil in the high marsh dominated by switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and common rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos subsp. moscheutos). Seedling survival was low; after 12 weeks, just 0.7% of seedlings were alive [3].

Vegetative establishment: High levels of salinity (≥18,000 ppm), anoxic conditions, exposure, and small rhizome size can reduce the chances of successful establishment from common reed rhizome fragments [20]. Portions of common reed stands or sod may survive drought and saline conditions better than rhizome fragments [212]. Young plants established through vegetative means can be much hardier than seedlings [210].

Emergence from unburied, flooded rhizomes failed when salinity levels were high (≥18,000 ppm) in greenhouse and field studies in Riverbend Marsh, New Jersey. Rhizomes on the surface desiccated or washed away. No emergence occurred in poorly drained conditions, although mature common reed occupied poorly drained sites in the field [20].

Survival and shoot height were greater in fresh than saline water, and exposure to fresh water before saline water increased shoot survival and height in a greenhouse study using rhizomes and water from Riverbend Marsh. Larger rhizomes (2-node section weighing 4 g) established in saline water (9,000-21,000 ppm), but small rhizomes (2-node section < 2 g) did not. No shoots emerged from rhizomes in poorly drained or flooded treatments. A freshwater treatment before exposure to the salty Riverbend Marsh water increased shoot survival and height over all saltwater treatments. Field observations indicated that common reed established near mosquito ditches, creek banks, landfills, and railroad beds and spread vegetatively into the interior high marsh [21].

Average survival and shoot height from common reed rhizome fragments [21]
Treatment Proportion surviving to end of growing season Shoot height (cm)
Freshwater 0.80a 63.58a
Freshwater for 2 weeks, then Riverbend water (salinity 9,000-21,000 ppm) 0.67ab 45.35ab
Riverbend water 0.49b 36.39b
Values within a column followed by different letters are significantly different (P<0.05).

In areas of southwestern Louisiana's Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, where vegetation was clipped or killed by herbicide, common reed sod established but seedlings did not. Common reed cover was greatest when sod was planted in clipped sites. Five of 10 sods survived in clipped areas, 4 of 10 survived in undisturbed areas dominated by saltgrass and saltmeadow cordgrass, and 1 of 10 survived in herbicide-killed areas. After the 2-year study period, 30% of sod pieces survived, although water tables were low and pore water salinity was 20,000 to 38,000 ppm. During the study, there were record-setting growing-season droughts. Fertilization did not affect common reed cover [212].

Nonnative common reed sprouts survived and grew better in fresh and saline environments than did native sprouts. Rhizomes were collected in Delaware and Maryland from nonnative and native haplotypes. Nonnative rhizomes produced numerous shoots. Shoots produced by native rhizomes were fewer but thicker and taller than nonnative shoots. Shoot differences persisted and were used to distinguish haplotypes 1 year later. Nonnative shoot survival was higher than native shoot survival over the salinity range tested (0-23,400 ppm, P=0.02). Native haplotypes did not grow over 2 inches (5 cm) at salinity levels above 12,870 ppm. The nonnative haplotype grew to 8 inches (20 cm) and was producing new shoots at 23,400 ppm salinity. No new native shoots were produced at salinity levels above 12,870 ppm. In freshwater, nonnative common reed produced 1.63 shoots/g dry mass of rhizome tissue, and native haplotypes produced 0.52 to 0.92 shoots/g dry rhizome tissue [233].

Survival of nonnative and native common reed haplotypes with increasing salinity [233]
Salinity (ppm) Survival (%)
Nonnative haplotype (M) Native haplotype (F) Native haplotype (AC)
1,176 80 80 80
7,605 100 20 40
12,870 100 0 20
18,720 100 0 40
23,400 100 0 0

Vegetative spread: Rhizomatous growth allows common reed to spread quickly [15] and to occupy sites unsuitable for establishment by seed or rhizome fragments [5,19]. In England's Breckland fens, common reed rhizomes grew 20 to 80 inches (50-200 cm) annually, while stolons grew to over 40 inches (100 cm) long [101]. After studying Wisconsin wetland vegetation, Curtis [54] reported that common reed rhizomes can grow 16 inches (40 cm)/year. At Horn Point marsh in the upper Chesapeake Bay area, aerial photos showed that common reed spread over 33 feet (10 m) in a single season on a bare sandy dredge [186]. Common reed clones on the Connecticut River's east shore from Long Island Sound to Lord's Cove spread from 33 m² to 1,630 m²/year [240]. Rates of common reed spatial expansion were 0.07 to 1.3 feet (0.02-0.4 m)/year and perimeter expansion rates were 1.6 to 6.6 feet (0.5-2 m)/year in New Jersey and Delaware photos taken from 1954 to 2000 [180].

Vegetative spread allowed common reed to occupy harsh sites with salinity of 20,000 to 30,000 ppm and daily flooding. Researchers conducted transplant and rhizome severing studies in low (daily tide flooding) and high marshes (no daily flooding) in the brackish (<15,000 ppm) Adolf Rotundo Wildlife Sanctuary of Massachusetts and in the saltier (20,000-30,000 ppm) Rhode Island's Rumstick Cove. The density of transplant shoots in high marshes was 2 to 5 times that in low marshes with highly anoxic soils. At Rumstick Cove, severing common reed rhizomes decreased the survival (<45%) of ramets growing into the low marsh. In the Adolf Rotundo Sanctuary, rhizome severing did not affect survival. Higher salinity at Rumstick Cove likely made the connection to the parent plant more important for survival [5].

In the Riverbend Marsh of New Jersey's Hackensack Meadowlands, common reed's spread from mosquito ditches into high marshes was facilitated through its alteration of the site. Severing rhizomes and clipping dead culms led to increased sulfide concentrations in dense common reed stands. Researchers suggested that common reed plants lowered sulfide concentrations in the upper marsh surface through oxygenation and perhaps pressurized ventilation of the rhizosphere. Decreased sulfide levels were associated with increased common reed growth. Establishment occurred in well-drained mosquito ditches low in free sulfides, and established plants provided a source of essential nutrients to the advancing plants through their rhizome connection [19].

Growth: Common reed is capable of rapid above- and belowground growth, with growth rates of up to 1.6 inches (4 cm)/day reported [202]. Rapid common reed growth may affect nutrient availability. In the Tivoli Bays of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve in New York, common reed produced nearly twice the aboveground biomass of narrow-leaved cattail and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and sequestered a significantly greater amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in aboveground tissue (P=0.0001) [220].

Native and nonnative plant growth: The nonnative common reed haplotype emerges earlier, produces greater biomass, and activates dormant rhizome buds more rapidly than native common reed haplotypes. Native haplotypes may also be more susceptible to aphid herbivory than the nonnative type.

Field and greenhouse studies of native and nonnative common reed populations growing together in the Appoquinimick River watershed near Odessa, Delaware, showed that nonnative plants emerged earlier, accumulated more biomass, grew taller, and activated dormant rhizome buds more rapidly than native plants. In March, nonnative stands averaged 97.5 aerial shoots/m² whereas native stands averaged 7.5 shoots/m². Nonnative plants emerged earlier and flowered later than native plants. Differences in stand densities were not detected at the end of the growing season, but in August, height, fresh biomass, leaf biomass, and stem biomass were significantly greater in nonnative than native stands (P<0.0001). After 70 days in a greenhouse, rhizomes collected from the nonnative stands had produced significantly more shoots/biomass of rhizome planted than rhizomes collected from native stands (P=0.024). Researchers concluded that nonnative plants activated dormant rhizome buds more rapidly than native plants [144].

Greenhouse and field studies revealed that aphids (Hyalopterus pruni) preferred to feed on and had greater densities in native than nonnative common reed stands in Rhode Island. In the greenhouse, there were significantly more aphids/gram of dry weight on native than nonnative plants (P=0.037). Aphid feeding led to chlorosis and sometimes death of native plants, while nonnative plants were "relatively undamaged". In the field, nonnative stands supported a significantly lower density of aphids than did native stands (P<0.001). The only plants without aphids were nonnative [139].

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RAUNKIAER [185] LIFE FORM:
Geophyte
Helophyte
  • 185. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]

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Life Form

More info for the term: graminoid

Graminoid

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Flowering and fruit development occur from July to November throughout common reed's range [58,62,82,169]. In Florida, common reed flowering may occur as early as May and as late as January. However, these dates were associated with range extremes and/or abnormal weather events or patterns [91].
Typical common reed flowering dates by state and region
State/region Flowering dates
Arizona July-October [128]
Baja California July-November [249]
California July-November [169]
Florida October-November in the panhandle [46];
fall throughout [256]
Illinois July-September [168]
Nevada July-November [127];
September-October at Nevada Test Site [23]
New Mexico August-October [158]
North and South Carolina September-October [182]
Texas July-November [58]
Utah* (Uinta Basin) July-October [84]
West Virginia July-September [215]
Atlantic and Gulf coasts July-October [63]
Great Plains July-September (June-October, occasionally) [87,142]
Intermountain West July-September [51]
New England August-November [82]
Northeast August-September; often flowers persist through winter [153]
*In western Utah, common reed growth begins 14 April in a normal year and 2 weeks earlier in warm year; anthesis begins 15 July in warm year [30]
  • 158. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 2. Germany: J. Cramer. 2589 p. [37176]
  • 169. Munz, Philip A.; Keck, David D. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]
  • 87. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 30. Bolen, Eric G. 1964. Plant ecology of spring-fed salt marshes in western Utah. Ecological Monographs. 34(2): 143-166. [11214]
  • 46. Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124]
  • 51. Cronquist, Arthur; Holmgren, Arthur H.; Holmgren, Noel H.; Reveal, James L.; Holmgren, Patricia K. 1977. Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 6: The Monocotyledons. New York: Columbia University Press. 584 p. [719]
  • 58. Diggs, George M., Jr.; Lipscomb, Barney L.; O'Kennon, Robert J. 1999. Illustrated flora of north-central Texas. Sida Botanical Miscellany, No. 16. Fort Worth, TX: Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 1626 p. [35698]
  • 62. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of edible weeds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 246 p. [52780]
  • 63. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906]
  • 82. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 84. Goodrich, Sherel; Neese, Elizabeth. 1986. Uinta Basin flora. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ashley National Forest; Vernal, UT: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Vernal District. 320 p. [23307]
  • 91. Hall, David W. 1978. The grasses of Florida. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida. 498 p. Dissertation. [53560]
  • 128. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563]
  • 153. Magee, Dennis W. 1981. Freshwater wetlands: A guide to common indicator plants of the Northeast. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 245 p. [14824]
  • 182. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 215. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 249. Wiggins, Ira L. 1980. Flora of Baja California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1025 p. [21993]
  • 256. Wunderlin, Richard P. 1998. Guide to the vascular plants of Florida. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. 806 p. [28655]
  • 23. Beatley, Janice C. 1976. Vascular plants of the Nevada Test Site and central-southern Nevada: ecologic and geographic distributions. [Washington, DC]: U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, Office of Technical Information, Technical Information Center. 308 p. Available from U.S. Department of Commerce, National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA. TID-26881/DAS. [63152]
  • 127. Kartesz, John Thomas. 1988. A flora of Nevada. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 1729 p. [In 2 volumes]. Dissertation. [42426]
  • 142. Larson, Gary E. 1993. Aquatic and wetland vascular plants of the Northern Great Plains. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-238. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 681 p. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (Producer). Available: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/plants/vascplnt/vascplnt.htm [2006, February 11]. [22534]
  • 168. Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1986. [Revised edition]. Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 507 p. [17383]

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Flower/Fruit

Fl. & Fr. Per.: July-October.
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Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL

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Life Expectancy

Perennial.

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Reproduction

Biology and Spread

While each Phragmites plant may produce thousands of seeds annually, seed viability is typically low although there appears to be a great deal of interannual variation in fecundity. Dispersal to new sites is typically by seed except along rivers and shorelines where fragments of rhizomes may be washed down to new sites where they can establish. Along roadsides, rhizomes fragments may also be transported by heavy machinery between sites. At this time, there is no evidence for hybrid native/introduced populations occurring in the field.

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U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Stems move air: Phragmites australis
 

Dead stems of Phragmites australis move air to shoot and root meristems by use of differential air pressure.

   
  "Through flow can also occur in dormant plants with persistent, standing litter. This has been reported for Phragmites australis. Differences in wind speed at the top and near the bottom in the canopy create a differential internal pressure between tall and short dead shoots. The lower air pressure in taller shoots draws air into the shorter dead shoots, down into the rhizomes, and up the taller dead shoots (Fig. 4.8). In the temperate zone in the early spring, this may be an important mechanism for Phragmites to get oxygen to shoot and root meristems."

From Fig. 4.8: "A. Differential air pressure caused by wind blowing across dead culms sucks air into the lower culms through the rhizomes and into the taller culms. B. Pressurization of new culms due to a build up of vapour pressure or higher temperatures causes mass flow of gasses [sic] down the culms into the rhizome and up into more porous older culms. The movement of oxygen from the rhizomes into the roots and out of the roots into the soil is due to diffusion. (Redrawn from Colmer 2003)" (van der Valk 2006: 64-65)


"Internal transport of gases is crucial for vascular plants inhabiting aquatic, wetland or flood-prone environments. Diffusivity of gases in water is approximately 10 000 times slower than in air; thus direct exchange of gases between submerged tissues and the environment is strongly impeded. Aerenchyma provides a low-resistance internal pathway for gas transport between shoot and root extremities. By this pathway, O2 is supplied to the roots and rhizosphere, while CO2, ethylene, and methane move from the soil to the shoots and atmosphere. Diffusion is the mechanism by which gases move within roots of all plant species, but significant pressurized through-flow occurs in stems and rhizomes of several emergent and floating-leaved wetland plants. Through-flows can raise O2 concentrations in the rhizomes close to ambient levels. In general, rates of flow are determined by plant characteristics such as capacity to generate positive pressures in shoot tissues, and resistance to flow in the aerenchyma, as well as environmental conditions affecting leaf-to-air gradients in humidity and temperature. O2 diffusion in roots is influenced by anatomical, morphological and physiological characteristics, and environmental conditions. Roots of many (but not all) wetland species contain large volumes of aerenchyma (e.g. root porosity can reach 55%), while a barrier impermeable to radial O2 loss (ROL) often occurs in basal zones. These traits act synergistically to enhance the amount of O2 diffusing to the root apex and enable the development of an aerobic rhizosphere around the root tip, which enhances root penetration into anaerobic substrates. The barrier to ROL in roots of some species is induced by growth in stagnant conditions, whereas it is constitutive in others. An inducible change in the resistance to O2 across the hypodermislexodermis is hypothesized to be of adaptive significance to plants inhabiting transiently waterlogged soils. Knowledge on the anatomical basis of the barrier to ROL in various species is scant. Nevertheless, it has been suggested that the barrier may also impede influx of: (i) soilderived gases, such as CO2, methane, and ethylene; (ii) potentially toxic substances (e.g. reduced metal ions) often present in waterlogged soils; and (iii) nutrients and water. Lateral roots, that remain permeable to O2, may be the main surface for exchange of substances between the roots and rhizosphere in wetland species. Further work is required to determine whether diversity in structure and function in roots of wetland species can be related to various niche habitats. (Colmer 2003:17)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • van der Valk, A. 2006. The Biology of Freshwater Wetlands. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 173 p.
  • Colmer, T.D. 2003. Long-distance transport of gases in plants: a perspective on internal aeration and radial oxygen loss from roots. Plant, cell and environment. 26(1): 17-36.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Phragmites australis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phragmites australis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 42
Specimens with Barcodes: 64
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Nearly cosmopolitan as a presumably native plant in marshes and other wetland habitats on all continents except Antarctica. Additionally, at least in North America, non-native genotypes may have become established in areas not previously supporting Phragmites.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Lansdown, R.V.

Reviewer/s
García, N. & Tognelli, M.

Contributor/s
Patzelt, A., Knees, S.G., Neale, S. & Williams, L.

Justification

This species is extremely widespread and abundant almost throughout the world, it is capable of exploiting anthropogenic habitats and is not known to face any significant threats; it is therefore classed as Least Concern.

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Information on state-level noxious weed status of plants in the United States is available through Plants Database.

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Status

Common and widespread (4). Reedbeds are a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (6).
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Status

Considered a noxious weed in several states. Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

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Global Short Term Trend: Increase of 10 to >25%

Comments: Increasing overall in North America, although decreasing at some sites, and some historically known genotypes of New England now possibly extirpated by introduction of more vigorous alien genotypes there (Saltonstall, unpubl., 2001).

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Population

Population

This species is extremely widespread and abundant, locally forming massive stands. Whilst there is no direct global information on population trends and there have been some losses through drainage and conversion of wetlands to other habitats, there is no evidence that this species is declining overall.


Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Comments: IMPACTS (THREATS POSED BY THIS SPECIES)

Phragmites can be regarded as a stable, natural component of a wetland community if the habitat is pristine and the population does not appear to be expanding. Many native populations of Phragmites are "benign" and pose little or no threat to other species and should be left intact. Examples of areas with stable, native populations include sea-level fens in Delaware and Virginia and along Mattagota Stream in Maine (Rawinski 1985, pers. comm. 1992). In Europe, a healthy reed belt is defined as a "homogeneous, dense or sparse stand with no gaps in its inner parts, with an evenly formed lakeside borderline without aisles, shaping a uniform fringe or large lobes, stalk length decreasing gradually at the lakeside border, but all stalks of one stand of similar height; at the landside edge the reeds are replaced by sedge or woodland communities or by unfertilized grasslands" (Ostendorp 1989).

Stable populations may be difficult to distinguish from invasive populations, but one should examine such factors as site disturbance and the earliest collection dates of the species to arrive at a determination. If available, old and recent aerial photos can be compared to determine whether stands in a given area are expanding or not (Klockner, pers. comm. 1985).

Phragmites is a problem when and where stands appear to be spreading while other species typical the of the community are diminishing. Disturbances or stresses such as pollution, alteration of the natural hydrologic regime, dredging, and increased sedimentation favor invasion and continued spread of Phragmites (Roman et al. 1984). Other factors that may have favored recent invasion and spread of Phragmites include increases in soil salinity (from fresh to brackish) and/or nutrient concentrations, especially nitrate, and the introduction of a more invasive genotype(s) from the Old World (McNabb and Batterson 1991; Metzler and Rosza 1987, see GLOBAL RANGE section for further discussion).

Michael Lefor asserts that one reason for the general spread of Phragmites has been the destabilization of the landscape (pers. comm. 1993). In urban landscapes water is apt to collect in larger volumes and pass through more quickly (flashily) than formerly. This tends to destabilize substrates leaving bare soil open for colonization. Watersheds throughout eastern North America are flashier due to the proliferation of paved surfaces, lawns and roofs and the fact that upstream wetlands are largely filled with post-settlement/post agricultural sediments from initial land-clearing operations.

Many Atlantic coast wetland systems have been invaded by Phragmites as a result of tidal restrictions imposed by roads, water impoundments, dikes and tide gates. Tide gates have been installed in order to drain marshes to harvest salt hay, to control mosquito breeding and, most recently, to protect coastal development from flooding during storms. This alteration of marsh systems may favor Phragmites invasion by reducing tidal action and soil water salinity and lowering water tables.

Phragmites invasions may threaten wildlife because they alter the structure and function (wildlife support) of relatively diverse Spartina marshes (Roman et al. 1984). This is a problem on many of the eastern coastal National Fish and Wildlife Refuges including: Brigantine in NJ; Prime Hook and Bombay Hook in DE; Tinicum in PA; Chincoteague in VA; and Trustom Pond in RI.

Plant species and communities threatened by Phragmites are listed in the Monitoring section. Some of these instances are described below:

1. Massachusetts, a brackish pondlet near Horseneck Beach supports the state rare plant MYRIOPHYLLUM PINNATUM (Walter) BSP, which Phragmites is threatening by reducing the available open water and shading aquatic vegetation (Sorrie, pers. comm. 1985).

2. Maryland, at Nassawango Creek, a rare coastal plain peatland community is threatened by Phragmites (Klockner, pers. comm. 1985).

3. Ohio, at the Arcola Creek wetland, phragmites is threatening the state endangered plant CAREX AQUATILIS Wahlenb. (Young, pers. comm. 1985).

Phragmites invasions also increase the potential for marsh fires during the winter when the above ground portions of the plant die and dry out (Reimer 1973). Dense congregations of redwing blackbirds, which nest in Phragmites stands preferentially, increase chances of airplane accidents nearby. The monitoring and control of mosquito breeding is nearly impossible in dense Phragmites stands (Hellings and Gallagher 1992). In addition, Phragmites invasions can also have adverse aesthetic impacts. In Boston's Back Bay Fens, dense stands have obscured vistas intended by the park's designer, Frederick Law Olmstead (Penko, pers. comm. 1993).

As noted above Phragmites is not considered a threat in the West or most areas in the Gulf states.

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Major Threats

There are no known significant past, ongoing or future threats to this species.

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In Britain, reedbeds are one of the most important habitats for birds; a number of extremely rare birds are entirely dependent on the habitat, including the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), the marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and the bearded tit (Panurus biarmicus). Unfortunately the total area of reedbeds is small, water abstraction, resulting in a lowering of the water table, as well as conversion to agricultural land have further reduced the area of reedbeds (6). Unsuitable management or neglect can result in a reedbed drying out; if the reeds are not cut regularly, the habitat will be invaded by willow scrub and will eventually become a wet woodland (5). Pollution of freshwater inputs into reedbeds can lead to the death of reeds, and siltation can cause drying out. Furthermore, many of the largest and most important reedbeds in Britain are on the eastern coast, and are threatened by sea-level rise (6).
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Management

Restoration Potential: Areas that have been invaded by Phragmites have excellent potential for recovery. Management programs have proven that phragmites can be controlled, and natural vegetation will return. However, monitoring is imperative because Phragmites tends to reinvade and control techniques may need to be applied several times or, perhaps, in perpetuity. It is also important to note that some areas have been so heavily manipulated and degraded that it may be impossible to eliminate Phragmites from them. For example, it may be especially difficult to control Phragmites in freshwater impoundments that were previously salt marshes.

Management Requirements: Invasive populations of Phragmites must be managed in order to protect rare plants that it might outcompete, valued animals whose habitat it might dominate and degrade, and healthy ecosystems that it might greatly alter.

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL: Biological control does not appear to be an option at this time. No organisms which significantly damage Phragmites australis but do not feed on other plant species have been identified. In addition, some of the arthropods that feed on Phragmites are killed by winter fires and thus would likely be eliminated from the systems where prescribed fires are used. Coots, nutria, and muskrats may feed on Phragmites but appear to have limited impacts on its populations (Cross and Fleming 1989).

BURNING: Prescribed burning has

BURNING: Prescribed burning does not reduce the growing ability of Phragmites unless root burn occurs. Root burn seldom occurs, however, because the rhizomes are usually covered by a layer of soil, mud and/or water. Fires in Phragmites stands are dangerous because this species can cause spot-fires over 100 feet away (Beall 1984). Burning does remove accumulated Phragmites leaf litter, giving the seeds of other species area to germinate.

CHEMICAL: Rodeo TM, a water solution of the isopropylamine salt of glyphosate is commonly used for Phragmites control. This herbicide is not, however, selective and will kill grasses and broadleaved plants alike. Toxicity tests indicate that it is virtually non-toxic to all aquatic animals tested. It should be noted that many of these tests were performed by or for Monsanto, the company which manufactures Rodeo.

Rodeo must be mixed with water and a surfactant which allows it to stick to and subsequently be absorbed by the plant (Beall 1984). Instructions for application are on the Rodeo label.

Application of Rodeo must take place after the tasseling stage when the plant is supplying nutrients to the rhizome.

CUTTING: Cutting has been used successfully to control phragmites. Since it is a grass, cutting several times during a season, at the wrong times, may increase stand density (Osterbrock 1984). However, if cut just before the end of July, most of the food reserves produced that season are removed with the aerial portion of the plant, reducing the plant's vigor. This regime may eliminate a colony if carried out annually for several years. Care must be taken to remove cut shoots to prevent their sprouting and forming stolons (Osterbrock 1984).

GRAZING, DREDGING, AND DRAINING: Grazing, dredging, and draining are other methods that have often been used to reduce stand vigor (Howard, Rhodes and Simmers 1978). However, draining and dredging are not appropriate for use on most preserves (Osterbrock, 1984).

Grazing may trample the rhizomes and reduce vigor but the results are limited (Cross and Fleming 1989). Van Deursen and Drost (1990) found that cattle consumed 67-98% of above-ground biomass; in a four year study, they found that reed populations may reach new equilibria under grazing regimes.

MANIPULATION OF WATER LEVEL AND SALINITY: Reintroduced tidal action and salinity can reduce Phragmites vigor and restore the community's integrity.

MOWING, DISKING, AND PULLING: Beall (1984) discourages mowing and disking. Mowing only affects the above ground portion of the plant, so mowing would have to occur annually. To remove the rhizome, disking could be employed. However, discing could potentially result in an increase of Phragmites since pieces of the rhizome can produce new plants. Cross and Fleming (1989) describe successful mowing regimes of several year duration during the summer (August and September) and disking in summer or fall.

Management Programs: BURNING: Prescribed burning has been used with success after chemical treatment at The Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge, NJ (Beall 1984) and in Delaware (Lehman, pers. comm. 1992). Occasional burning has been used in Delaware in conjunction with intensive spraying and water level management. This helps remove old canes and allows other vegetation to grow (Daly, pers. comm. 1991).

According to Cross and Fleming (1989), late summer burns may be effective, but winter and spring burning may in fact increase the densities of spring crops.

CHEMICAL: At the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge, Rodeo was applied aerially after the plants tasseled in late August. The application resulted in a 90% success. The following February, a fast moving prescribed burn was carried out to remove litter, exposing the seed bed for re-establishment of marsh vegetation.

Aerial spraying has been used since 1983 in many Delaware state wildlife refuges (Lehman, pers. comm. 1992). Using Rodeo, the state sprays freshwater and brackish impoundments, brackish marshes, and salt marshes from early September to early October; this is combined with winter burns between the first and second year of spraying.

In more fragile situations where Phragmites is threatening a rare plant or community, aerial spray techniques are inappropriate because such large-scale application could kill the community that the entire operation was designed to protect. Glyphosate can be applied to specific plants and areas by hand with a backpack sprayer. Wayne Klockner of The Nature Conservancy's Maryland Field Office has been successful in eliminating most Phragmites at the Nassawango preserve by applying glyphosate by hand with a backpack sprayer (Klockner, pers. comm. 1985).

CUTTING: In the Arcola Creek Preserve in Ohio, cutting reduced the vigor of the Phragmites colony.

Cutting an area 25' x 25' to waist height with a hedge clippers and the applying one drop of Roundup with a syringe with a large needle into the top of the plant in a brackish- freshwater marsh was begun in Constitution Marsh in New York in 1991 (Keene, pers. comm. 1991). Initial results indicate 90% eradication.

MANIPULATION OF WATER LEVEL AND SALINITY: A self-regulating tide gate which reintroduced saltwater tidal action was used to help restore a diked marsh in Fairfield, Connecticut (Thomas Steinke pers. comm. 1992; Bongiorno et al. 1984); plant density declined dramatically the following year.

Flooding can be used to control Phragmites when 3 feet of water covers the rhizome for an extended period during the growing season, usually four months (Beall 1984). However, many areas can not be flooded to such depths. Furthermore, flooding could destroy the communities or plants targeted for protection.

Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM) has been used as a method to control Phragmites (Niniviaggi, pers. comm. 1991; Rozsa, pers. comm. 1992).

Monitoring Programs: The programs listed below used various methods to control Phragmites populations and are monitoring the success of these actions including the degree of recovery of native species and the longevity of the control.

CONNECTICUT Monitoring phragmites reduction and replacement vegetation after reintroducing tidal flow, using transects and line intercept. Contact: Charles T. Roman, William Niering, Scott Warren Dept of Botany Connecticut College New London, CT 06320

Monitoring Phragmites reaction to reintroduction of tidal flow and salinity. Contact: Tom Steinke Fairfield Conservation Commission, Independence Hall 725 Old Post Road Fairfield, CT 06430 203-256-3071

Annual cutting of perimeter of one-acre stand and monitoring with aerial photos on five-year basis; herbicide application on small patch at edge of salt marsh. Contact: Beth Lapin The Nature Conservancy 55 High Street Middletown, CT 06457 203-344-0716

DELAWARE Aerial spraying of RodeoTM (glyphosate) and water management plan using stoplogs and vegetation analyses of replacement species. Contact: Paul Daly Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge RD #1 Box 147 Smyrna, DE 19977 302-653-9345

Monitoring the ecological factors (water table level, PH, salinity) governing the growth of Phragmites in 4 habitats; 1) open high salt marsh, 2) open low salt marsh, 3) brackish water impoundment, 4) freshwater impoundment. Investigating Phragmites control with glyphosate. Contact: Wayne Lehman and Bill Jones Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife P.O. Box 1401 Dover, DE 19903 302-653-2079.

MASSACHUSETTS Cutting three times in one season, followed by opening of tidal flood gate. Contact: Mike Wheelwright Department of Public Works Town of Quincy Quincy, MA 02169 617-773-1380 x210 Contact: Ross Dobberteen Lelito Environmental Consultants 2 Bourbon St. #102 Peabody, MA 01960 508-535-7861

MARYLAND Nassawango Creek, A Nature Conservancy Preserve RodeoTM (glyphosate) applied with backpack sprayer. Contact: Wayne Klockner The Nature Conservancy Chevy Chase Center Office Building 35 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 304 Chevy Chase Maryland 20815 301-656-8073

Spraying with RodeoTM (glyphosate), burning. Contact: Steve Ailstock Environmental Center Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD

NEW JERSEY Aerial spraying with RodeoTM (glyphosate), prescribed burn to remove litter. Contact: David Beall Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge Brigantine Division PO Box 72, Great Creek RD Oceanville, NJ 08231 609-652-1665

Pulling rhizomes, chemical spray. Contact: Liz Johnson The Nature Conservancy 17 Fairmont Road Pottersville, NJ 07979 908-439-3007 NEW YORK:

Using water level manipulation and burning. Contact: Bob Parris Wertheim NWR P.O. Box 21 Smith Road Shirley, NY 11967 516-286-0485

PENNSYLVANIA Chemical application. Contact: Dick Nugent Tinicum Environmental Center Scott Plaza 2 Philadelphia, PA 19113 215-521-0663

OHIO Arcola Creek Wetland, Morgan Marsh Controlling Phragmites by cutting. Contact: Terry Seidel The Nature Conservancy Ohio Field Office 1504 West 1st Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43212 614-486-6789

VIRGINIA RodeoTM (glyphosate) application and monitoring program. Contact: Irvin Ailes Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Chincoteague, VA 23336 804-336-6122

Winter burns. Contact: Marilyn Ailes Public Works Office Building Q29 Aegis Combat System Center Wallops Island, VA 23337 804-824-2082

Management Research Programs: LOUISIANA Aerial photographs of the Mississippi River Delta indicated that different stands of Phragmites had different infrared signatures. Isozyme analyses were performed on samples from these stands in order to determine whether they differed genetically and constituted different clones. Two distinct clones were found and both differed from stands elsewhere on the Gulf coast. Additional isozymal work is planned on populations from elsewhere on the Gulf coast and, if time allows, from populations in the eastern and Great Lakes states as well

For research on population biology and control methods refer to BIOLOGICAL MONITORING PROGRAMS section.

Management Research Needs: Research on the following facets of Phragmites invasions and basic biology are needed: 1. what types and levels of disturbance and stress induce Phragmites to invade and/or dominate an area?; 2. how effective are various control programs and what conditions promote or allow Phragmites to reinvade areas from which it has been removed?; 3. if Phragmites does reinvade how long does this process take?; 4. are there ways to alleviate or mitigate for the stresses that induce the spread of Phragmites?; 5. can the use of competitive plantings of TYPHA or other desirable species be used to control Phragmites.

Biological Research Needs: What are the genetics of natural populations and how do stable and invasive populations differ?

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

This species occurs in vast populations in many protected areas and in many countries is protected mainly as habitats for birds.

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Management considerations

More info for the terms: allelopathy, bog, cover, density, fen, fire management, forb, forbs, haplotype, litter, marsh, peat, presence, restoration, rhizome, swamp, tree

Increases in the amount and coverage of nonnative common reed haplotypes since the mid-1900s
have prompted many investigations into its potential allelopathy, method of establishment
and spread, impacts on native plant and animal species, and susceptibility to control.

Allelopathy: The only study to date assessing
allelopathy in common reed suggests its rhizomes do not exude allelopathic chemicals.
Researchers found that germination of saltgrass and saltmarsh bulrush (Schoenoplectus robustus)
was not affected by watering with common reed rhizome leachate [61].


IMPACTS AND CONTROL:


Many studies have quantified and traced the spread of common reed in the Great Lakes
and Atlantic Coast areas where the nonnative common reed haplotype has become dominant.
Establishment, spread, and increased dominance of common reed are often associated with
anthropogenic disturbances, including land development, tidal manipulation, and
waterway construction. For more on the establishment and spread of common reed, see General Distribution and Occurrence and Regeration Processes.
Impacts: Numerous
changes can occur when common reed replaces other vegetation. Common reed has been called an
"ecosystem engineer" [212]. Plant diversity, soil properties,
sedimentation rates, bird and fish habitat use, and food webs may be
altered when marshes are converted to dense, monotypic common reed stands.
Impacts on plant diversity: The growth of large
monotypic common reed stands may be associated with decreased plant diversity. Through
field and greenhouse experiments, researchers concluded that common reed litter was the
most important factor in the exclusion of other brackish tidal marsh species. Seeds of
triangle orache (Atriplex prostrata) and seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
established and grew well in soils collected from sites dominated by common reed
or rush (Juncus spp.) in the Adolph Rotundo Wildlife Preserve in Massachusetts.
Total biomass of both species was greatest in common reed soils. In field experiments,
establishment of these forbs decreased significantly (P<0.05) with common reed
litter regardless of the presence of common reed shoots. Forb establishment increased
with the removal of common reed litter and stems [166].
All measures of plant species diversity were lowest in a marsh with the greatest
average standing crop of common reed (1,742 g/m²) in East Harbor State Park, Ohio.
The researcher stressed cause-effect relationship was not established but suggested
that long-term common reed persistence may have reduced seed bank species richness [244].
In the Kampoosa Bog of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, species richness and evenness were
not different between fen plots with or without common reed. However, the cover of
characteristic fen species, water sedge (Carex aquatilis) and sweetgale (Myrica gale),
was significantly lower on plots with common reed (P<0.05) [187].

Impacts on sediment properties: Some studies indicate
that common reed may alter soil properties, salinity levels, and topographic relief when
it replaces previously dominant vegetation. Water salinity, depth to water table, and
topographic relief were significantly lower in stands dominated by common reed than stands
dominated by saltmeadow cordgrass and saltgrass in brackish tidal marshes on Hog Island in
southern New Jersey (P<0.01). All 3 variables were also negatively correlated
with common reed age. Significant differences in soil properties were noticed within 3 years
of common reed establishment [255].

Stanton [212] described common reed as an "ecosystem engineer" after finding
that true elevation, peat accumulation, and organic matter increased while sediment bulk
density decreased with increased common reed dominance in southwestern Louisiana's
Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. Soils and elevation changes were compared along a gradient
that included marshes dominated by saltmeadow cordgrass, saltgrass, and saltmarsh bulrush,
ecotones between uninvaded marshes and marshes with new common reed establishment, and a
monotypic common reed stand about 40 years old. Rates of elevation increase peaked within
7 years of common reed establishment. Sediment bulk density decreased with increased common
reed age [212].
Common reed's impacts on sediment properties, however, are not consistently demonstrated
over all studies and sites. In Maryland's Prospect Bay, flow regime, sediment transport,
and sediment deposition patterns were not different at the scales measured in common reed
and smooth cordgrass marshes. Researchers suggested that results may be different during
severe storms [147]. In Tivoli North Bay, New York, there were no significant
differences in sediment microbial biomass and activities among narrow-leaved cattail
(Typha angustifolia), purple loosestrife, and common reed marshes. Microbial
processes specific to pollutants were not studied and the study was conducted at the height
of the growing season. Both factors may have affected findings [172].
Impacts on animal habitat: Conversion of wetland
habitats to monotypic common reed stands may or may not affect animal use. Findings often
differed with the species and age of the animal and vegetation being studied. In many
cases, habitat diversity, size, and connectedness may affect wildlife more than plant
species composition.
Birds and small mammals: In 40 salt and brackish marshes
of Connecticut's tidal wetlands, there were significantly fewer state-listed (endangered,
threatened, or special concern) bird species in common reed than in shortgrass vegetation
dominated by saltmeadow rush, saltgrass, and/or cordgrass (P<0.001). The average
number of bird species/plot was also significantly lower in common reed than shortgrass
marshes (P=0.029). Bird communities in common reed vegetation were dominated by
marsh wrens, red-winged blackbirds, swamp sparrows, and tree and barn swallows; wading
birds and sandpipers foraged at the edge of common reed stands [24].
Along the Hudson River of New York, bird and small mammal species richness, species
composition, and abundance were not significantly different between common reed, purple
loosestrife, and cattail freshwater tidal marshes (P<0.05). Average bird
species richness was highest in common reed marshes, although not significantly.
Arthropod availability and nest predator access were also not different by vegetation
type. Bird and arthropod abundance were better predicted by site and landscape
characteristics than vegetation type [160].
Fish and other aquatic organisms:
Habitat use by fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates can be affected by vegetation;
however, fish age as well as vegetation type may affect study findings. In a review, authors
report that common reed marshes support a "diverse and abundant benthic biota",
and that many estuarine organisms are not affected by common reed's presence [243].
On the East shore of the Connecticut River on Long Island Sound, common reed vegetation
supported macroinvertebrate densities similar to those of restored meadows and smooth
cordgrass-cattail vegetation [240]. On the Hog Islands of southern New Jersey, overall
small fish (P=0.0001) and crustacean (P=0.002) use were significantly
greater in smooth cordgrass than common reed vegetation [1]. Total fishes caught/trap
was not significantly different between common reed and narrow-leaved cattail marshes
(P<0.05); however, there were species-specific differences between the 2
vegetation types. The number of aquatic invertebrates collected per litter bag was
generally highest in narrow-leaved cattail marshes, but differences between the 2 marsh
types were not significant. Grass shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio) captures/trap were
significantly greater in common reed than narrow-leaved cattail marshes (P=0.002).
Fiddler crabs (Uca minax) were significantly more abundant in narrow-leaved cattail
than common reed marshes (P<0.001) [69].
Several studies report that common reed-dominated marshes provide less
suitable habitat for mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus and F. luciae)
larval and small juvenile forms [1,183]. Fundulus luciae was captured
exclusively from smooth cordgrass marshes, and the abundance of recently hatched
F. heteroclitus was much lower in common reed than smooth cordgrass [1].
Findings were similar along the Lieutenant River of Connecticut, where significantly
more F. heteroclitus larvae and juveniles were caught from narrow-leaved cattail
than common reed marshes (P<0.001) [69]. Successful pit trap of F.
heteroclitus and F. luciae decreased with increased abundance of common
reed in estuarine habitats in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Researchers
suggested that increased litter accumulations in common reed marshes created a more
uniform topography, decreased pooling, and may have reduced abundance of refugia from
currents [118]. Along Mill Creek, in New Jersey's Hackensack Meadowlands, large juvenile
and adult F. heteroclitus abundance was similar in common reed and smooth cordgrass
marshes but larvae and small juveniles were significantly more abundant in smooth
cordgrass than common reed (P=0.04 in 1999; P<0.0001 in 2000). Of 1,469
total fish captured, only 29 young of the year were captured from common reed marsh, and
their most likely prey were significantly more abundant in smooth cordgrass than
common reed (P<0.05). Experimentally creating undulations and pools in the
sediment increased larval abundance some, but researchers cautioned that these findings
do not indicate the undulations and pools are the only important larval habitat
features [183].

Impacts on food webs: Arthropod food webs
differed between smooth cordgrass and common reed stands in the Alloway Creek
Watershed of New Jersey's Delaware Bay. In smooth cordgrass stands, the food web
depended on herbivores and smooth cordgrass consumption. In common reed stands,
a detritus-based food web was most common [86].

Control: While several studies report
on the use of chemical, mechanical, and integrated control methods for common reed,
determination of the common reed haplotype and assessment of potentially undesirable
consequences of removal are necessary before control is attempted. In the Great Lakes
area, on the Atlantic Coast, and in other parts of common reed's range, appropriate
management of common reed requires that its native or nonnative status be determined.
In some areas, land managers are attempting to maintain and encourage native common
reed populations while discouraging nonnative populations [175].
Although common reed can be a problem in waterways, producing extensive stands
that restrict water flow, the same aggressive growth characteristics make it an
excellent soil binder that prevents erosion and washouts [114] and may protect
eroding coastlines [191,192]. Therefore the control or removal of common reed may
negatively impact some coastal locations. At eroding island sites on the eastern
shore of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, more deposition occurred in common reed
than cordgrass stands. Common reed stands trapped minerals and organic sediments at
a rate of 24 g/m²/day. Substrate elevation increased by as much as 3 mm in 6 months
in common reed stands [191]. Additional studies in Chesapeake Bay showed that
accretion rates were higher (0.95 cm/year) and sediment water content lower (about 70%)
in 20-year-old common reed than in cattail, switchgrass, or 5-year-old common reed
stands. High productivity, litter accumulations, and high sediment loadings in common
reed marshes likely contributed to accretion. Researchers indicated that high accretion
in common reed stands may actually benefit coastal areas since sea level rise in Chesapeake
Bay is 2 to 3 times the eustatic rate of 1 to 2 mm/year [192], (sea level data reviewed in [192]).

Best management practices in common reed marshes may not require vegetation type conversions.
In Delaware Bay estuaries and Connecticut River salt marshes, researchers assessed habitat
data from common reed stands with intermittent and continuous herbicide use. Habitat value
was rarely 0% or 100%, regardless of species composition and dominance, and smooth cordgrass
did not colonize sprayed common reed zones as rapidly as cover was lost to herbicide treatment.
Researchers suggested managing for a net gain of suitable habitat instead of a vegetation type
conversion in these marshes [229]. In a review, Ludwig and others [151] suggested that common
reed management should be site-specific, goal-specific, and value-driven. Understanding the
biological, chemical, and physical impacts of common reed at a particular site is important to
the management decision-making process [151].
Numerous studies have assessed control methods for common reed. Information on many
individual and integrated methods is available from the following references: [52,155,227].
Some indicate that control treatments are most effective when plants are releasing pollen,
typically in midsummer [156], and that extensive and persistent rhizomes necessitate follow-up
treatments [57].
Prevention: Maintaining competing vegetation around
existing common reed stands and minimizing nutrient loads may limit common reed spread. In
a coastal brackish marsh along the Barrington River in Seekonk, Rhode Island, cutting neighboring
vegetation and adding nutrients increased common reed (likely the nonnative haplotype) density,
height, and biomass. Common reed spread 3 times farther in high-nutrient vegetation-removal
treatments than in any nutrient treatment with intact neighboring vegetation [165].
Water level manipulation: In some areas of Connecticut,
the reintroduction of tidal flooding through dike breaching has decreased the area
occupied by common reed [241]. However, it is suggested that restoring fluctuating water
levels in Great Lakes wetlands may increase common reed abundance [110].
Along Long Island Sound in Connecticut, breaching dikes that were more than 50 years
old generally decreased the total marsh area covered by common reed. Through tide
restoration, salt marsh vegetation replaced common reed at a rate of 0.5% to 5% per year
and limited common reed to less frequently flooded sites [241].
In the Barn Island tidal marsh complex of Stonington, Connecticut, the reintroduction
of tidal flooding decreased common reed abundance in places. Before dike construction,
stunted smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow cordgrass, and saltgrass dominated. Thirty years
after dike construction, cattail and common reed dominated. Ten years after tidal flooding
was restored, 28% of the study area resembled predike vegetation, and 33% remained
dominated by cattail and common reed [16].
Integrated management: Many studies describe
the effects of multiple control methods on common reed. On Connecticut River's east
shore, mowing and herbicide treatments provided for short-term control [240].
In common reed marshes near Salem, New Jersey, the establishment of Jesuit's bark
(Iva frutescens), groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia), black rush
(Juncus roemerianus), and saltmeadow cordgrass in herbicide-treated areas
appeared to limit the spread of common reed populations [236]. In ponds at Cape Cod
National Seashore, repeated stem breakage in a high-water year produced substantial
common reed mortality. The number of live stems decreased by 58% to 99% in treated ponds
[209].
Several studies report the effects of combining herbicides with fire to reduce
common reed. These studies are discussed in Fire as a control
method
.
Fire: See Fire
Management Considerations
.
Biological: While there have been no purposeful
introductions of insects that target the nonnative common reed haplotype, many have
been accidentally introduced. Likely they arrived in shipments packed with dried common
reed material. The diversity and abundance of these herbivores is highest near New York
City [25]. There has been some discussion about the introduction and use of a
haplotype-specific biocontrol [27,90]. For more on insects already in the United States
and potential European introductions, see [28].
  • 52. Cross, Diana H.; Fleming, Karen L. 1989. Control of phragmites or common reed. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.4.12. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 5 p. [18396]
  • 110. Herrick, Bradley M.; Wolf, Amy T. 2005. Invasive plant species in diked vs. undiked Great Lakes wetlands. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 31(3): 277-278. [68541]
  • 114. Holm, LeRoy G.; Plocknett, Donald L.; Pancho, Juan V.; Herberger, James P. 1977. The world's worst weeds: distribution and biology. Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawaii. 609 p. [20702]
  • 155. Marks, Marianne; Lapin, Beth; Randall, John. 1994. Phragmites australis (P. communis): threats, management, and monitoring. Natural Areas Journal. 14(4): 285-294. [26678]
  • 156. Martin, Alex C.; Erickson, Ray C.; Steenis, John H. 1957. Improving duck marshes by weed control. Circular 19 (Revised). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. 60 p. [16324]
  • 175. Payne, Richard E.; Blossey, Bernd. 2007. Presence and abundance of native and introduced Phragmites australis (Poaceae) in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Rhodora. 109(937): 96-100. [68760]
  • 212. Stanton, Lee Ellis. 2005. The establishment, expansion and ecosystem effects of Phragmites australis, an invasive species in coastal Louisiana. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University, Agricultural and Mechanical College. 166 p. Dissertation. [68800]
  • 240. Warren, R. Scott; Fell, Paul E.; Grimsby, Jonna L.; Buck, Erika L.; Rilling, G. Chris; Fertik, Rachel A. 2001. Rates, patterns, and impacts of Phragmites australis expansion and effects of experimental Phragmites control on vegetation, macroinvertebrates, and fish within tidelands of the lower Connecticut River. Estuaries. 24(1): 90-107. [68755]
  • 241. Warren, R. Scott; Fell, Paul E.; Rozsa, Ron; Brawley, A. Hunter; Orsted, Amanda C.; Olson, Eric T.; Swamy, Varun; Niering, William A. 2002. Salt marsh restoration in Connecticut: 20 years of science and management. Restoration Ecology. 10(3): 497-513. [68517]
  • 1. Able, Kenneth W.; Hagan, Stacy M. 2000. Effects of common reed (Phragmites australis) invasion on marsh surface macrofauna: response of fishes and decapod crustaceans. Estuaries. 23(5): 633-646. [68790]
  • 16. Barrett, Nels E.; Niering, William A. 1993. Tidal marsh restoration: trends in vegetation change using a geographical information system (GIS). Restoration Ecology. 1(1): 18-28. [20797]
  • 24. Benoit, Lori K.; Askins, Robert A. 1999. Impact of the spread of Phragmites on the distribution of birds in Connecticut tidal marshes. Wetlands. 19(1): 194-208. [69513]
  • 27. Blossey, Bernd. 2003. A framework for evaluating potential ecological effects of implementing biological control of Phragmites australis. Estuaries. 26(2B): 607-617. [68721]
  • 57. D'Antonio, Carla; Meyerson, Laura A. 2002. Exotic plant species as problems and solutions in ecological restoration: a synthesis. Restoration Ecology. 10(4): 703-713. [43644]
  • 61. Drifmeyer, J. E.; Zieman, J. C. 1979. Germination enhancement and inhibition of Distichlis spicata and Scirpus robustus seeds from Virginia. Estuaries. 2(1): 16-21. [54146]
  • 69. Fell, Paul E.; Warren, R. Scott; Light, John K.; Rawson, Robert L., Jr.; Fairley, Sean M. 2003. Comparison of fish and macroinvertebrate use of Typha angustifolia, Phragmites australis, and treated Phragmites marshes along the lower Connecticut River. Estuaries. 26(2B): 534-551. [68726]
  • 86. Gratton, Claudio; Denno, Robert F. 2006. Arthropod food web restoration following removal of an invasive wetland plant. Ecological Applications. 16(2): 622-631. [62282]
  • 90. Hafliger, Patrick; Schwarzlander, Mark; Blossey, Bernd. 2006. Comparison of biology and host plant use of Archanara geminipuncta, Archanara dissoluta, Archanara neurica, and Arenostola phragmitidis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), potential biological control agents of Phramites australis (Arundineae: Poaceae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 99(4): 683-696. [68728]
  • 118. Hunter, Karen L.; Fox, Dewayne A.; Brown, Lori M.; Able, Kenneth W. 2006. Responses of resident marsh fishes to stages of Phragmites australis invasion in three mid Atlantic estuaries. Estuaries and Coasts. 29(3): 487-498. [68730]
  • 147. Leonard, Lynn A.; Wren, P. Ansley; Beavers, Rebecca L. 2002. Flow dynamics and sedimentation in Spartina alterniflora and Phragmites australis marshes of the Chesapeake Bay. Wetlands. 22(2): 415-424. [68739]
  • 151. Ludwig, David F.; Iannuzzi, Timothy J.; Esposito, Anthony N. 2003. Phragmites and environmental management: a question of values. Estuaries. 26(2B): 624-630. [68740]
  • 160. McGlynn, Catherine Ann. 2006. The effects of two invasive plants on native communities in Hudson River freshwater tidal wetlands. Stony Brook, NY: Stony Brook University. 218 p. Dissertation. [68567]
  • 165. Minchinton, Todd E.; Bertness, Mark D. 2003. Disturbance-mediated competition and the spread of Phragmites australis in a coastal marsh. Ecological Applications. 13(5): 1400-1416. [68743]
  • 166. Minchinton, Todd E.; Simpson, Juliet C.; Bertness, Mark D. 2006. Mechanisms of exlusion of native coastal marsh plants by an invasive grass. Journal of Ecology. 94(2): 342-354. [61512]
  • 172. Otto, Sibylle; Groffman, Peter M.; Findlay, Stuart E. G.; Arreola, Anna E. 1999. Invasive plant species and microbial processes in a tidal freshwater marsh. Journal of Environmental Quality. 28(4): 1252-1257. [37547]
  • 183. Raichel, Diana L.; Able, Kenneth W.; Hartman, Jean Marie. 2003. The influence of Phragmites (common reed) on the distribution, abundance, and potential prey of a resident marsh fish in the Hackensack Meadowlands, New Jersey. Estuaries. 26(2B): 511-521. [68745]
  • 187. Richburg, Julie A.; Patterson, William A., III; Lowenstein, Frank. 2001. Effects of road salt and Phragmites australis invasion on the vegetation of a western Massachusetts calcareous lake-basin fen. Wetlands. 21(2): 247-255. [68747]
  • 191. Rooth, J. E.; Stevenson, J. C. 2000. Sediment deposition patterns in Phragmites australis communities: implications for coastal areas threatened by rising sea-level. Wetlands Ecology and Management. 8: 173-183. [68751]
  • 192. Rooth, Jill E.; Stevenson, J. Court; Cornwell, Jeffrey C. 2003. Increased sediment accretion rates following invasion by Phragmites australis: the role of litter. Estuaries. 26(2B): 475-483. [68748]
  • 209. Smith, Stephen M. 2005. Manual control of Phragmites australis in freshwater ponds of Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, USA. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management. 43: 50-53. [68768]
  • 229. Turner, R. E.; Warren, R. S. 2003. Valuation of continuous and intermittent Phragmites control. Estuaries. 26(2B): 618-623. [68754]
  • 236. Wang, Jiangbo. 2005. Sustained restoration of Phragmites-infested wetlands: a vegetation alternative to cyclic spray and burn. Newark, DE: University of Delaware. 132 p. Dissertation. [68798]
  • 243. Weis, Judith S.; Weis, Peddrick. 2003. Is the invasion of the common reed, Phragmites australis, into tidal marshes of the eastern US an ecological disaster? Marine Pollution Bulletin. 46(7): 816-820. [68771]
  • 244. Welch, Bradley A. 2001. Phragmites australis: response to wave exposure gradients, substrate characteristics, and its influence on plant species diversity in a Lake Erie coastal marsh. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University. 156 p. Dissertation. [68802]
  • 255. Windham, Lisamarie; Lathrop, Richard G., Jr. 1999. Effects of Phragmites australis (common reed) invasion on aboveground biomass and soil properties in brackish tidal marsh of the Mullica River, New Jersey. Estuaries. 22(4): 927-935. [54144]
  • 25. Blossey, B.; Schwarzlander, M.; Haflinger, P.; Casagrande, R.; Tewksbury, L. 2002. Common reed. In: Van Driesche, Roy; Lyon, Suzanne; Blossey, Bernd; Hoddle, Mark; Reardon, Richard, tech. coord. Biological control of invasive plants in the eastern United States. USDA Forest Service Publication FHTET-2002-04. [Washington, DC]: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 146-155. Available online: http://www.invasive.org/eastern/biocontrol/9CommonReed.html [2005, August 12]. [54244]
  • 28. Blossey, Bernd. 2003. Insects already introduced to North America, [Online]. In: Phragmites: common reed: Insects. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program (Producer). Available: http://www.invasiveplants.net/phragmites/insects.asp [2008, March 13]. [69726]
  • 227. Tu, Mandy, ed. 2000. Techniques from TNC stewards for the eradication of Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) and Phragmites australis (common reed/Phrag) in wetlands. In: Control comments from stewards. Weeds on the web: Wildland invasive species program, [Online]. Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy (Producer). Available: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/lythsali.html. [40056]

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Prevention and Control

Avoid spread of plants and plant parts to uninfested plant areas.

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Conservation

Reedbeds are a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Many important reedbeds are listed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), classified as Wetlands of International Importance under the RAMSAR Convention, and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the EC Birds Directive (6). Many are managed as reserves by the RSPB, English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales (6).
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© Wildscreen

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Please contact your local NRCS Field Office.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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This grass cannot withstand prolonged heavy grazing. Its upright growth makes it easy for livestock to remove all the leaves. For maximum production, no more than 50 percent of current year's growth by weight should be grazed off during growing season. Common reed tolerates burning if water is above soil surface. Burning is not essential for management. Water control that lowers the water level, but does not drain the area, increases production. Grazing deferments of 60 to 90 days every 2 to 3 years during the growing season improve plant vigor.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun, wet conditions (including shallow water), and a rich fertile soil to sustain the prodigious growth of this grass. Propagation is easiest by division of the rhizomes, as most seeds are infertile. This grass also tolerates partial sun and soil that is consistently moist, rather than wet. It can spread aggressively through its rhizomes, becoming a pest. Range & Habitat
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: fuel

Native people ate common reed rhizomes and seeds. They also used the plant material to treat stomach, ear, and tooth pains, and to construct pipestems, arrows, mats, nets, and prayer sticks [62,127,128,242].

Common reed was utilized as a food source and as a medicine by Native Americans. Shoots were eaten raw or cooked. Flour was made from dried shoots and rhizomes [62,64]. Common reed rhizomes provided a year-round food source. Seeds were harvested and ground into a high fiber meal [62]. In southern California, the Kawaiisu harvested and utilized sugar crystals that collected on common reed stems [257]. Paiute people used common reed's sugary sap to treat lung ailments, and the Apache used common reed rhizomes to treat diarrhea, stomach troubles, earaches, and toothaches [62].

Common reed plant material was used to construct various items that made food gathering, warfare, travel, and relaxation easier or more comfortable. Native people used common reed in fences, roofs, and baskets [62]. Common reed was also used as insulation, fuel, fertilizer, and mulch. Six hundred-year-old cigarettes found in Red Bow Cliff Dwellings, Arizona, were constructed of common reed stems [181]. The Kawaiisu of southern California used common reed stems to make arrows, fire drills, and pipes [257]. The Cahuilla, also of southern California, used common reed stems to make flutes, splints, and arrow shafts. Common reed was also used as a thatch in house construction. The soft, silky fibers, which remained after stems were soaked and the outer tissue layer was removed, were twisted into a strong cordage used to make carrying nets and hammocks [22]. The Navajo used common reed to make bird snares and arrows [65]. The Seri of the southwestern United States bundled common reed stems to make "seagoing reed boats". Boys used mesquite (Prosopis spp.) spines attached to common reed stems to catch small fish and crabs [68]. The Navajo used common reed to make prayer sticks that they used during the Mountain Chant Ceremony [65].

  • 62. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of edible weeds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 246 p. [52780]
  • 128. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563]
  • 181. Pojar, Jim; MacKinnon, Andy, eds. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Publishing. 526 p. [25159]
  • 242. Weber, William A.; Wittmann, Ronald C. 1996. Colorado flora: eastern slope. 2nd ed. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado. 524 p. [27572]
  • 22. Bean, Lowell John; Saubel, Katherine Siva. 1972. Telmalpakh: Cahuilla Indian knowledge and usage of plants. Banning, CA: Malki Museum. 225 p. [35898]
  • 64. Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. 1982. Field guide to North American edible wild plants. New York: Outdoor Life Books. 286 p. [21104]
  • 65. Elmore, Francis H. 1944. Ethnobotany of the Navajo. Monograph Series: 1(7). Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico. 136 p. [35897]
  • 68. Felger, R. S. 1977. Mesquite in Indian cultures of southwestern North America. In: Simpson, B. B., ed. Mesquite: Its biology in two desert ecosystems. US/IBP Synthesis Series 4. Stroudsburg, PA: Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc: 150-176. [5195]
  • 257. Zigmond, Maurice L. 1981. Kawaiisu ethnobotany. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press. 102 p. [35936]
  • 127. Kartesz, John Thomas. 1988. A flora of Nevada. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 1729 p. [In 2 volumes]. Dissertation. [42426]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: cover, haplotype, hardwood, natural, restoration, rhizome, shrubs

Ease of establishment, rapid vegetative spread, and high tolerance of disturbance make common reed an understandable choice for rehabilitation. However, these same traits make common reed a nuisance or weedy species in some areas. In natural or wild areas, the use of native common reed haplotypes may be required or preferred. For more information on the potential impacts of the nonnative common reed haplotype, see Impacts.

Common reed seeds, rhizomes, and plants have been used in restoration [113,122,173]. The extensive common reed rhizome network is useful for bank stabilization [92]. In Lake Mead coves, common reed was planted to provide fish cover. Survival ranged from 0% to 56%. Plants did not survive on steep sites with rapidly dropping water levels [50]. Once phosphogypsum and clay slurries were deposited on open pit phosphate mines in Beaufort County, North Carolina, common reed colonized rapidly. However, establishment of nonriverine wet hardwood oaks and shrubs was less successful when common reed was present [9].

  • 92. Hall, James B.; Hansen, Paul L. 1997. A preliminary riparian habitat type classification system for the Bureau of Land Management districts in southern and eastern Idaho. Tech. Bull. No. 97-11. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management; Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Riparian and Wetland Research Program. 381 p. [28173]
  • 113. Hoagland, Bruce. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: a classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist. 45(4): 385-420. [41226]
  • 9. Andrews, Ross L.; Broome, Stephen W. 2006. Oak flat restoration on phosphate-mine spoils. Restoration Ecology. 14(2): 210-219. [63274]
  • 50. Croft, Lisa K.; Haley, Jennifer S.; Paulson, Larry J. 1990. The Lake Mead cover enhancement project: planting native vegetation creates new habitat. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration `89: the new management challenge: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 403-419. [14713]
  • 122. Jenkins, Robert. 1973. Ecosystem restoration. In: Hulbert, Lloyd C., ed. Third Midwest prairie conference proceedings; 1972 September 22-23; Manhattan, KS. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Division of Biology: 23-27. [18794]
  • 173. Pace, Wm. Lynn, III; Riskind, David H.; Hayes, Tom D. 1988. Restoration and management of native plant communities on Texas parklands: the mixed-prairie experience. In: Davis, Arnold; Stanford, Geoffrey, eds. The prairie: roots of our culture; foundation of our economy: Proceedings of the 10th North American prairie conference; 1986 June 22-26; Denton, TX. Dallas, TX: Native Prairie Association of Texas: 09.04: 1-3. [25605]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the terms: cover, haplotype, litter, marsh, warm-season

Nutria, common muskrats, birds, and cattle feed on common reed. Song sparrows (Klockner 1985, personal communication, cited in [155]) and waterfowl eat seeds [133,216]. Black-capped chickadees and other bird species feed on scales (Caetococcus phragmitidis) that commonly occur in common reed leaf sheaths [133]. Nutria and common muskrats consume rhizomes and stems [133,216,254].

Cover value: Common reed provides shade, nesting, and cover habitat for mammals, waterfowl, song birds, and fishes. Native ungulates, waterfowl, other birds, and small mammals utilize common reed stands for cover. Waterfowl, pheasants, and rabbits use cover at the margin of common reed stands throughout its range [156]. In valley habitats of Nevada, common reed is considered "excellent" Gambel's quail cover [89]. In Idaho, common reed stands provide "excellent" big game thermal and hiding cover, and waterfowl utilize stands for nesting and hiding [92]. Common reed provides good feeding and thermal cover for many bird and small mammal species in Montana and is good thermal cover for mule deer and white-tailed deer [95]. In the Delta Marsh, white-tailed deer utilize common reed stands for escape cover [238]. More specific cover information is provided in the following subsections.

Livestock: Some report that common reed has little to no forage value [62,85], but Leithead and others [145] claim common reed is "readily eaten by cattle and horses" in the southern United States. Stubbendieck and others [216] also report that cattle and horses consumed common reed before it matured.

Small mammals: Common reed provides habitat for white-footed mice and habitat and food for nutria and common muskrats. The white-footed mouse, a habitat generalist, often occurs in common reed freshwater tidal marshes along the Hudson River of New York [160]. Common muskrats feed on common reed stems and use stems in nest construction [156]. Common reed may also provide emergency common muskrat cover on Gulf Coast marshes when lower marshes are swept away by storms or when other habitats are overpopulated [152]. Common reed is considered an important nutria food in Louisiana (Harris and Webert 1962, cited in [131]). In marshes of Dorchester County, Maryland, spring and fall nutria diets contained large amounts of common reed. Over a 3-year period, common reed made up 5.9% of nutria's annual diet, but made up 33.2% of May and 19% of October diets [254].

Birds: Common reed provides food as well as nesting, roosting, and hunting habitats to a wide variety of bird species. Some studies, however, indicate that dense, monotypic common reed stands support lower avian diversity than other wetland habitats.

Red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds frequently use common reed habitats in central and eastern Montana [94]. Along the Colorado River from the Arizona-Nevada to the United States-Mexico borders, common reed stands supported the lowest avian densities and diversities of the marsh types studied. However, common reed marshes were utilized by wading birds in the spring and visiting insectivores throughout the year. In the spring, Yuma clapper rails also used common reed habitats [6].

Common reed is not considered an important food source for ducks, according to studies from Louisiana [41] and Georgia [123], but provides important nesting habitat. Stands with open water are typically preferred to thick dense stands. In the prairie pothole region of the northern United States and southern Canada, semipermanent and permanent marshes with large stands of common reed are important habitats for flightless, molting adult ducks [218,237]. Common reed stands also provided an important barrier for marsh inhabitants by limiting intrusions from grazing animals and humans [237].

Nesting habitat: Throughout its range, common reed is utilized as nesting cover and material. On the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on the northeastern edge of Utah's Great Salt Lake, snowy egrets and other herons used broken common reed stems as nest material [253]. In the Great Plains, red-winged blackbirds "preferentially" nested in common reed vegetation [216]. On southwestern Louisiana's Gulf Coast, red-winged blackbirds and boat-tailed grackles frequently nested in cattail and/or common reed stands [78].

On Pea Patch Island in New Castle County, Delaware, 10 wading bird species nested in common reed vegetation during a 7-year study. Snowy egrets, cattle egrets, little blue herons, and black-crowned night-herons as well as small numbers of tricolored herons, yellow-crowned night-herons, and green herons nested in common reed marshes and in upland sites. Cattle egrets produced larger clutches and had greater hatching success in common reed marshes than on upland sites, while the opposite was true for little blue herons. Common reed stands provided important nest material for wading birds and provided a protecting buffer from upland human and pet traffic [174].

On Utah's Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, 3% of all duck nests (mallards, gadwalls, pintails, redhead, and cinnamon teal) were in common reed stands, although common reed occupied only an estimated 1% of the marsh area. The fate of duck eggs on the refuge is reported for species and vegetation type by Williams and Marshall [253]. Mallards used common reed more in developed than in undeveloped areas of Beach Haven West, New Jersey. Common reed was the primary nesting cover in developed lagoons [70].

Canada geese preferred bulrush, broad-leaved cattail, and common river grass over common reed cover types in Marshy Point, Manitoba, but the common reed cover type was preferred over other grasses and woodlands [48]. Nesting ducks in the Delta Marsh of southern Manitoba "heavily" used the edges of common reed stands. Mallards extensively used edge habitats where common reed met meadow vegetation, and redheads and lesser scaups used edges that met open water. Of 147 land-nesting duck nests, 31% occurred on the edges of common reed stands at the Delta Marsh Duck Station. Canopies created by the previous year's snow-weighted common reed stems and patches of common reed within meadow vegetation were favored nest sites. Flightless ducks often used open water areas within common reed vegetation [237].

Foraging/roosting habitat: Short-eared owls, barn swallows, chimney swifts, and red-tailed hawks utilize common reed habitats for roosting or foraging. On the lower Columbia River in Multnomah County, Oregon, short-eared owls roosted in old fields dominated by common reed and thistles [219]. Barn swallows and chimney swifts used common reed marshes along the Hudson River for perching and foraging [160]. In the Hackensack Meadowlands of New Jersey, short-eared owls used 2- to 3-foot (0.6-0.9 m) tall common reed stands for winter roosting [33], and red-tailed hawks hunted in common reed marshes [34].

Aquatic animals: Reviews report that common reed stands provide important shade, shelter, and food for fishes [114] and that common reed litter provides food for mollusks, other crustaceans, and aquatic insects [133]. There is additional information on the nonnative common reed haplotype and aquatic organisms in Impacts on fish and other aquatic organisms.

Palatability/nutritional value: Common reed is not rated as a high-value or high-palatability livestock or wildlife food unless plants are young. Immature plants are considered palatable in southern and eastern Idaho [92]. In Montana, common reed is considered a fair food source for pronghorn and a poor food source for mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk. Palatability is rated fair for horses and cattle and poor for domestic sheep [95]. In the southern United States, common reed is described as a "high-quality, warm-season forage," although mature plants are considered tough and unpalatable [145].

Several studies report on the nutrients available in common reed plants. Trends in crude protein, phosphorus, and digestibility levels of common reed in south-central North Dakota from late spring to early summer are available from Kirby and others [132]. Percent ash, carbon, and nitrogen in live and dead aboveground common reed material is reported for plants from Blackbird Creek Marsh in New Castle County, Delaware, by Rowman and Daiber [193]. Levels of nitrogen and carbon in belowground common reed biomass along the Atlantic coast of Delaware are reported by Gallagher and Plumley [80].

  • 62. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of edible weeds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 246 p. [52780]
  • 78. Gabrey, Steven W.; Afton, Alan D.; Wilson, Barry C. 2001. Effects of structural marsh management and winter burning on plant and bird communities during summer in the Gulf Coast Chenier Plain. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 29(1): 218-231. [54077]
  • 80. Gallagher, John L.; Plumley, F. Gerald. 1979. Underground biomass profiles and productivity in Atlantic coastal marshes. American Journal of Botany. 66(2): 156-161. [68793]
  • 85. Gould, Frank W. 1978. Common Texas grasses. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. 267 p. [5035]
  • 92. Hall, James B.; Hansen, Paul L. 1997. A preliminary riparian habitat type classification system for the Bureau of Land Management districts in southern and eastern Idaho. Tech. Bull. No. 97-11. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management; Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Riparian and Wetland Research Program. 381 p. [28173]
  • 94. Hansen, Paul L.; Chadde, Steve W.; Pfister, Robert D. 1988. Riparian dominance types of Montana. Misc. Publ. No. 49. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 411 p. [5660]
  • 95. Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central and eastern Montana. Draft Version 2. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 279 p. [12477]
  • 114. Holm, LeRoy G.; Plocknett, Donald L.; Pancho, Juan V.; Herberger, James P. 1977. The world's worst weeds: distribution and biology. Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawaii. 609 p. [20702]
  • 133. Kiviat, Erik. 1987. Common reed (Phragmites australis). In: Decker, Daniel J.; Enck, Jody W., eds. Exotic plants with identified detrimental impacts on wildlife habitats in New York state. Natural Resources Research and Extension Series 29. Ithaca, NY: New York Chapter, Wildlife Society. 22-30. [20396]
  • 145. Leithead, Horace L.; Yarlett, Lewis L.; Shiflet, Thomas N. 1971. 100 native forage grasses in 11 southern states. Agric. Handb. 389. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 216 p. [17551]
  • 155. Marks, Marianne; Lapin, Beth; Randall, John. 1994. Phragmites australis (P. communis): threats, management, and monitoring. Natural Areas Journal. 14(4): 285-294. [26678]
  • 156. Martin, Alex C.; Erickson, Ray C.; Steenis, John H. 1957. Improving duck marshes by weed control. Circular 19 (Revised). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. 60 p. [16324]
  • 216. Stubbendieck, James; Coffin, Mitchell J.; Landholt, L. M. 2003. Weeds of the Great Plains. 3rd ed. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry. 605 p. In cooperation with: University of Nebraska, Lincoln. [50776]
  • 237. Ward, Edward. 1942. Phragmites management. Transactions, 7th North American Wildlife Conference. 7: 294-298. [14959]
  • 238. Ward, P. 1968. Fire in relation to waterfowl habitat of the delta marshes. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 255-267. [18932]
  • 6. Anderson, Bertin W.; Ohmart, Robert D.; Meents, Julie K.; Hunter, William C. 1984. Avian use of marshes on the lower Colorado River. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management: Proceedings; 1981 September 17-19; Davis, CA. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 598-604. [5861]
  • 33. Bosakowski, Thomas. 1986. Short-eared owl winter roosting strategies. American Birds. 40(2): 237-240. [22249]
  • 34. Bosakowski, Thomas. 1989. Observations on the evening departure and activity of wintering short-eared owls in New Jersey. Journal of Raptor Research. 23(4): 162-166. [22250]
  • 41. Chamberlain, J. L. 1959. Gulf Coast marsh vegetation as food of wintering waterfowl. Journal of Wildlife Management. 23(1): 97-102. [14535]
  • 48. Cooper, James A. 1978. The history and breeding biology of the Canada geese of Marshy Point, Manitoba. Wildlife Monographs No. 61. Washington, DC: The Wildlife Society. 87 p. [18122]
  • 70. Figley, William K.; VanDruff, Larry W. 1982. The ecology of urban mallards. Wildlife Monographs No. 81. Washington, DC: The Wildlife Society. 40 p. [2041]
  • 89. Gullion, Gordon W. 1960. The ecology of Gambel's quail in Nevada and the arid Southwest. Ecology. 41(3): 518-536. [49039]
  • 123. Johnson, A. Sydney; Hillestad, Hilburn O.; Shanholtzer, Sheryl Fanning; Shanholtzer, G. Frederick. 1974. An ecological survey of the coastal region of Georgia. Scientific Monograph Series No. 3. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 233 p. [16102]
  • 131. Kinler, Noel W.; Linscombe, Greg; Ramsey, Paul R. 1987. Nutria. In: Novak, Milan; Baker, James A.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Malloch, Bruce, eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: 326-342. [50675]
  • 132. Kirby, Donald R.; Green, Douglas M.; Mings, Thomas S. 1989. Nutrient composition of selected emergent macrophytes in northern prairie wetlands. Journal of Range Management. 42: 323-326. [6802]
  • 152. Lynch, John J.; O'Neil, Ted; Lay, Daniel W. 1947. Management significance of damage by geese and muskrats to Gulf Coast marshes. Journal of Wildlife Management. 11(1): 50-76. [14559]
  • 160. McGlynn, Catherine Ann. 2006. The effects of two invasive plants on native communities in Hudson River freshwater tidal wetlands. Stony Brook, NY: Stony Brook University. 218 p. Dissertation. [68567]
  • 174. Parsons, Katherine C. 2003. Reproductive success of wading birds using Phragmites marsh and upland nesting habitats. Estuaries. 26(2B): 596-601. [68744]
  • 193. Rowman, Charles T.; Daiber, Franklin C. 1984. Aboveground and belowground primary production dynamics of two Delaware Bay tidal marshes. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 111(1): 34-41. [68789]
  • 218. Swanson, George A.; Duebbert, Harold F. 1989. Wetland habitats of waterfowl in the prairie pothole region. In: van der Valk, Arnold, ed. Northern prairie wetlands. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press: 228-267. [15218]
  • 219. Taylor, Daniel M. 1984. Winter food habits of two sympatric owl species. Murrelet. 65(2): 48-49. [22257]
  • 253. Williams, Cecil S.; Marshall, Wm. H. 1938. Duck nesting studies, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah, 1937. Journal of Wildlife Management. 2(2): 29-52. [11191]
  • 254. Willner, Gale R.; Chapman, Joseph A.; Pursley, Duane. 1979. Reproduction, physiological responses, food habits, and abundance of nutria on Maryland marshes. Wildlife Monographs No. 65. Washington, DC: The Wildlife Society. 43 p. [18121]

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Uses

Although coarse, common reed is readily eaten by cattle and horses. It provides high quality warm season forage but becomes tough and unpalatable after maturity. Animals grazing this grass during winter should be fed a protein concentrate. This plant has been used in the Southwest for lattices in constructing adobe houses. Indians have used the stems for arrows, weaving mats, and carrying nets.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: Communities that have stable Phragmites populations present but have been exposed to disturbance should be closely monitored. Management is necessary when evidence indicates that Phragmites has spread, or is spreading and threatening the integrity of rare communities, invading the habitat of rare plants or animals or interfering with the wildlife support function of refuges. Cutting, burning, application of herbicides (in particular Rodeo), or water management schemes are possible control measures. The measure(s) used will depend on a number of factors including the size and location of the infestation, the presence of sensitive rare species and the work-force available.

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Ecological Threat in the United States

Once introduced Phragmites invades a site it quickly can take over a marsh community, crowding out native plants, changing marsh hydrology, altering wildlife habitat, and increasing fire potential. Its high biomass blocks light to other plants and occupies all the growing space belowground so plant communities can turn into a Phragmites monoculture very quickly. Phragmites can spread both by seed dispersal and by vegetative spread via fragments of rhizomes that break off and are transported elsewhere. New populations of the introduced type may appear sparse for the first few years of growth but due to the plant’s rapid growth rate, they will typically form a pure stand that chokes out other vegetation very quickly.

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U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

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Ecological Threat in the United States

Common reed is a vigorous growing plant that forms dense monotypic stands that consume available growing space and push out other plants including the native subspecies. It also alters wetland hydrology, increases the potential for fire and reduces and degrades wetland wildlife habitat due in part to its very dense growth habit. There is currently no evidence for of hybridization between native and introduced forms occurring in the field.

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Caution

Considered a noxious weed in several states.
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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Phragmites

This article is about the common reed. For other plants called reed, see Reed (plant).

Phragmites, the common reed, is a large perennial grass found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. Phragmites australis is sometimes regarded as the sole species of the genus Phragmites, though some botanists divide Phragmites australis into three or four species. In particular the South Asian Khagra Reed – Phragmites karka – is often treated as a distinct species.[3]

The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, maintained by Kew Garden in London, accepts 4 species as of August 2013:[2]

  1. Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. - cosmopolitan
  2. Phragmites japonicus Steud. - Japan, Korea, Ryukyu Islands, Russian Far East
  3. Phragmites karka (Retz.) Trin. ex Steud. - tropical Africa, southern Asia, Australia, some Pacific Islands
  4. Phragmites mauritianus Kunth - central + southern Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius

Taxonomy[edit]

Three Phragmites australis seedlings: A.) very young, B.) juvenile, C.) the oldest (3-4 months). Roman numerals denote different shoot generations. Sc = scutellum.
(From Om Skudbygning, Overvintring og Foryngelse by Eugen Warming, 1884)

The generally accepted botanical name of common reed is Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.. Dozens of other synonyms have been proposed,[4] a few of which have been widely used. A few of the more important:

Subspecies[edit]

Recent studies have characterised morphological distinctions between the introduced and native stands of Phragmites in North America. The Eurasian phenotype can be distinguished from the North American phenotype by its shorter ligules of up to 0.9 millimetres (0.04 in) as opposed to over 1.0 millimetre (0.04 in), shorter glumes of under 3.2 millimetres (0.13 in) against over 3.2 millimetres (0.13 in) (although there is some overlap in this character), and in culm characteristics.[citation needed]

Native and introduced species[edit]

In North America, the status of Phragmites australis was a source of confusion and debate. It was commonly considered an exotic species and often invasive species, introduced from Europe. However, there is evidence of the existence of Phragmites as a native plant in North America long before European colonization of the continent.[7] It is now known that the North American native forms of P. a. subsp. americanus are markedly less vigorous than European forms. The recent marked expansion of Phragmites in North America may be due to the more vigorous, but similar-looking European subsp. australis.[6]

Phragmites australis subsp. australis is causing serious problems for many other North American hydrophyte wetland plants, including the native Phragmites australis subsp. americanus. Gallic acid released by Phragmites is degraded by ultraviolet light to produce mesoxalic acid, effectively hitting susceptible plants and seedlings with two harmful toxins.[8][9] Phragmites are so difficult to control that one of the most effective methods of eradicating the plant is to burn it over 2-3 seasons. The roots grow so deep and strong that one burn is not enough.[10]

Growth and habitat[edit]

Phragmites australis, common reed, commonly forms extensive stands (known as reed beds), which may be as much as 1 square kilometre (0.39 sq mi) or more in extent. Where conditions are suitable it can spread at 5 metres (16 ft) or more per year by horizontal runners, which put down roots at regular intervals. It can grow in damp ground, in standing water up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) or so deep, or even as a floating mat. The erect stems grow to 2–6 metres (6 ft 7 in–19 ft 8 in) tall, with the tallest plants growing in areas with hot summers and fertile growing conditions.

The leaves are long for a grass, 20–50 centimetres (7.9–19.7 in) and 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.18 in) broad. The flowers are produced in late summer in a dense, dark purple panicle, about 20–50 cm long. Later the numerous long, narrow, sharp pointed spikelets appear greyer due to the growth of long, silky hairs.

It is a helophyte, especially common in alkaline habitats, and it also tolerates brackish water,[8] and so is often found at the upper edges of estuaries and on other wetlands (such as grazing marsh) which are occasionally inundated by the sea.

Common reed is suppressed where it is grazed regularly by livestock. Under these conditions it either grows as small shoots within the grassland sward, or it disappears altogether.

In Europe, common reed is rarely invasive, except in damp grasslands where traditional grazing has been abandoned.

A previously sandy beach 'invaded' by Phragmites australis reeds.


Wildlife in reed beds[edit]

Main article: Reed bed

Common reed is very important (together with other reed-like plants) for wildlife and conservation, particularly in Europe and Asia, where several species of birds are strongly tied to large Phragmites stands. These include:

Uses[edit]

Cultivation[edit]

P. australis is cultivated as an ornamental plant in aquatic and marginal settings such as pond- and lakesides. Its aggressive colonisation means it must be sited with care.[11]

Phytoremediation water treatment[edit]

Main article: Constructed wetland

Phragmites australis is one of the main wetland plant species used for phytoremediation water treatment.

Waste water from lavatories and greywater from kitchens is routed to an underground septic tank-like compartment where the solid waste is allowed to settle out. The water then trickles through a constructed wetland or artificial reed bed, where bioremediation bacterial action on the surface of roots and leaf litter removes some of the nutrients in biotransformation. The water is then suitable for irrigation, groundwater recharge, or release to natural watercourses.

Thatching[edit]

Main article: Thatching

Reed is used in many areas for thatching roofs. In the British Isles, common reed used for this purpose is known as Norfolk reed or water reed. However "wheat reed" and "Devon reed", also used for thatching, are not in fact reed, but long-stemmed wheat straw.

Music[edit]

In Iran and its neighbouring counties Phragmites is used to create an instrument similar to flute, which is named after the Persian name for the plant, "Ney".

Food[edit]

Numerous parts of Phragmites can be prepared for consumption. For example, the young stems "while still green and fleshy, can be dried and pounded into a fine powder, which when moistened is roasted [sic] like marshmallows." Also, the wheat-like seeds on the apex of the stems "can be ground into flour or made into gruel." Rootstocks are used similarly.[12]

Other uses[edit]

Some other uses for Phragmites australis and other reeds in various cultures include baskets, mats, pen tips, and a rough form of paper.[13] Additionally, the reeds are used as nesting tubes by individuals keeping solitary bees such as mason bees.

In the Philippines, Phragmites is known by the local name "tambo". Reed stands flower in December, and the blooms are harvested and bundled into brooms called "walis". Hence the common name of household brooms is "walis tambo".

In Australian Aboriginal cultures, reeds were used to make weapons like spears for hunting game.[14]

In Romania it is used to produce paper.

Legend and literature[edit]

When Midas had his ears transformed into donkey's ears, he concealed the fact and his barber was sworn to secrecy. However the barber could not contain himself and rather than confiding in another human, he spoke the secret into a hole in the ground. The reeds that grew in that place then repeated the secret in whispers.

Moses was "drawn out of the water where his mother had placed him in a reed basket to save him from the death that had been decreed by the Pharaoh against the firstborn of all of the children of Israel in Egypt" (Exodus 2:10).[15] However, the plant concerned may have been another reed-like plant, such as papyrus, which is still used for making boats.

One reference to reeds in European literature is Frenchman Blaise Pascal's saying that Man is but a 'thinking reed' — roseau pensant. In Jean de La Fontaine's famous fable The Oak and the ReedLe chêne et le roseau, the reed tells the proud oak: "I bend, and break not" —"Je plie, et ne romps pas", "before the tree's fall."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Phragmites australis". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  2. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ "Phragmites". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  4. ^ http://eol.org/pages/1114576/names/synonyms
  5. ^ Saltonstall, Peterson, and Soreng
  6. ^ a b Catling, P.M.; Mitrow, G.l. (2011). "Major invasive alien plants of natural habitats in Canada. 1. European Common Reed (often just called Phragmites), Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. subsp. australis". CBA Bulletin 44 (2): 52–61. 
  7. ^ Saltonstall, Kristin. 2002. invasion by a non-native genotype of the common reed, Phragmites australis, into North America. PNAS 99(4):2445-2449.
  8. ^ a b issg Database: Ecology of Phragmites australis
  9. ^ Changing Climate May Make 'Super Weed' Even More Powerful Newswise, Retrieved on June 4, 2009.
  10. ^ Stop Invasive Species - Phragmites
  11. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Phragmites australis". Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Peterson, Lee, "A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America",page 228, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York City,accessed the sixth of September, 2010. ISBN 0-395-20445-3
  13. ^ Phragmite
  14. ^ Unaipon, D. (2001) Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines, p. 138, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne. ISBN 0-522-85246-7.
  15. ^ usu.edu
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Notes

Comments

Plants with short, convolute, pungent leaf-blades and sheaths less than 3 cm long have been separated as var. stenophylla (Boiss.) Bor. Clayton (1967), however, has pointed out that shoots displaying this habit can occasionally be found growing from normal plants of both this species and Phragmites karka, and for this reason the variety is hardly worthy of recognition.

Common or Ditch Reed is found on limestone slopes in open forest in the mountains, margins of lakes and ponds and in shallow water in the plains.

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Comments

This is an extremely polymorphic, cosmopolitan reed with numerous chromosomal variants and ecotypes. Plants from the high Himalayas sometimes form short, leafy tufts with strongly distichous, short, pungent leaf blades. Similar variants occur elsewhere in the world in extreme conditions.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Generally accepted as an essentially cosmopolitan species; the name Phragmites communis is used for this plant in most older North American literature. LEM 6Jun01.

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Synonyms

More info for the term: fern

Phragmites communis Trin. [112,158,190,215,249]

Phragmites communis var. berlandieri (Fourn.) Fern [190]

Phragmites phragmites ( L.) Karst. [194,246]
  • 158. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 2. Germany: J. Cramer. 2589 p. [37176]
  • 112. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 190. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 215. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 249. Wiggins, Ira L. 1980. Flora of Baja California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1025 p. [21993]
  • 194. Rydberg, P. A. 1915. Phytogeographical notes on the Rocky Mountain region V. Grasslands of the subalpine and montane zones. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 42(11): 629-642. [60596]
  • 246. Wells, B. W. 1928. Plant communities of the coastal plain of North Carolina and their successional relations. Ecology. 9(2): 230-242. [9307]

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More info for the term: haplotype

The scientific name of common reed is Phragmites australis (Cav.)
Trin. ex Steud. (Poaceae) [14,58,72,111,126]. Common reed belongs
to the Panicoideae subfamily and the Arundineae tribe [58].
Currently a single subspecies and variety are recognized:
Phragmites australis subsp. americanus Saltonstall, PM Peterson
& Soreng [197], native lineage

Phragmites australis var. berlandieri (E Fourn.) CF Reed [197],
Gulf Coast lineage or haplotype I
Recent and previously uncharacteristic increases in common reed abundance
led to the study of its genetics. Saltonstall [196] determined that 11 native
haplotypes and 1 introduced haplotype occur throughout North America. The
introduced haplotype (M) is of European origin and is referred to as the
"nonnative haplotype" throughout this review.
  • 111. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 14. Barkworth, Mary E.; Capels, Kathleen M.; Long, Sandy; Anderton, Laurel K.; Piep, Michael B., eds. 2007. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 24: Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. New York: Oxford University Press. 911 p. Available online: http://herbarium.usu.edu/webmanual/. [68092]
  • 58. Diggs, George M., Jr.; Lipscomb, Barney L.; O'Kennon, Robert J. 1999. Illustrated flora of north-central Texas. Sida Botanical Miscellany, No. 16. Fort Worth, TX: Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 1626 p. [35698]
  • 196. Saltonstall, Kristin. 2003. Genetic variation among North American populations of Phragmites australis: implications for management. Estuaries. 26(2B): 444-451. [68749]
  • 197. Saltonstall, Kristin; Peterson, Paul M.; Soreng, Robert J. 2004. Recognition of Phragmites australis subsp. americanus (Poaceae: Arundinoideae) in North America: evidence from morphological and genetic analyses. SIDA. 21(2): 683-692. [69716]
  • 72. Flora of North America Association. 2008. Flora of North America: The flora, [Online]. Flora of North America Association (Producer). Available: http://www.fna.org/FNA. [36990]
  • 126. Kartesz, John T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 1st ed. In: Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Chapel Hill, NC: North Carolina Botanical Garden (Producer). In cooperation with: The Nature Conservancy; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service; U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. [36715]

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Common Names

common reed

carrizo

Danube grass

Roseau cane

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