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2015 Phragmites Surveys

This week, we hear from retired wildlife biologist, Rosemary Curley, on her work with common reed grass.

Common reed grass (Phragmites australis ssp. australis) is an invasive perennial grass that is native to Eurasia. It is not known for certain how it was moved to North America, but it likely arrived on the Atlantic coast accidentally via ballast materials in the late 1700s – early 1800s. (Swearingen, J. and K. Saltonstall. 2010)

Since establishing in North America, Phragmites australis ssp. australis has spread throughout continental U.S. and to most provinces in Canada. It prefers to grow in standing water but will tolerate dryer areas. It can easily be confused with a closely related native subspecies, Phragmites australis ssp. americanus. Both subspecies are present on PEI.

With help from the Atlantic Society of Fish and Wildlife Biologists and the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund, PEIISC member, Rosemary Curley, was able to visit many Common Reed (Phragmites australis) stands in 2015 in PEI.

Rosemary took the attached photos during her visits to these Phragmites stands.

For information on how to ID Phragmites australis ssp. australis and its native relative, please visit the PEIISC website: /common-reed-grass

Red lower stems of the native Phragmites australis ssp. americanus. Photo by Rosemary Curley, PEIISC.
Red lower stems of the native Phragmites australis ssp. americanus. Photo by Rosemary Curley, PEIISC.
Native Phragmites australis ssp. americanus in foreground. Photo by Rosemary Curley, PEIISC.
Native Phragmites australis ssp. americanus in foreground. Photo by Rosemary Curley, PEIISC.
Phragmites australis ssp. australis panicle. Photo by Caleb Slemmons, National Ecological Observatory Network, Bugwood.org
Phragmites australis ssp. australis panicle. Photo by Caleb Slemmons, National Ecological Observatory Network, Bugwood.org
Invasive Phragmites australis ssp. australis along a US road. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
Invasive Phragmites australis ssp. australis along a US road. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
Stand of Phragmites australis ssp. australis. Photo by James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Stand of Phragmites australis ssp. australis. Photo by James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Leaf sheaths of Phragmites australis ssp. australis cling tightly around the stem. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
Leaf sheaths of Phragmites australis ssp. australis cling tightly around the stem. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org