Scientific Name: Phragmites
Common Name: common reed
History: Common reed is an aquatic perennial that is part
of the grass family and has several different strains. One
strain is native to North America and another is native to
Europe. The European strain is much more aggressive and
invasive. It is believed that it reached America in the early
1800's by contaminated material in ship ballasts.
Roots: The root system of common reed is extensive and
consists mainly of rhizomes. Root hairs extend off the nodes of
the rhizome and the whole system can expand downward for up to
six feet. The rhizomes are the main method of reproduction.
Stems and Leaves: Common reed has woody, hollow, stems
that can reach heights of 15 feet tall. The leaves are
blue green in color, unlike the native strain which is lighter
colored. They can be one to five centimeters wide and 20 to 60
Flowers and Seeds: The stems end in panicles, or bunches
of spikelets. Each spikelet has up to seven flowers which are
less than an inch long and range from purple to gold in color.
The spikelets can be one to sixteen inches long and give the
tops of plants a feathery look. When the flowers die they are
replaced by gray, silky, hairs. Each plant can produce thousands
of seeds but most are not viable.
Methods of Reproduction: Common reed reproduces mainly
through root fragmentation or rhizomes that are carried
downstream. Most seeds aren't viable but occasionally some are
carried by wind, water, or other means and establish a new
Environments Favorable for Infestation: Common reed
occurs in disturbed wetlands, roadsides, ditches, lakes, rivers,
brackish and freshwater marshes, and areas with moderate
salinity. Common reed also prefers areas with full sun.
Environmental Impacts: Common reed is
aggressively invasive so it out-competes native plants for space
and it even chokes out the native strain of common reed. Common
reed grows in dense stands forcing out wildlife because they
can't get into it to hide or make nests. The stands are so thick
that they can alter water flow and interfere with circulation.
This also poses a great fire danger when the stalks die and dry
Range: Common rush, both native and invasive, are spread
throughout most of the U.S. but considered noxious in: CO,
CT, DC, DE, GA, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN,
VA, VT, and WI.
Prevention: Do not spread the
seeds by vehicle, clothing, or pets. Wash all equipment
and brush out all pet fur to get rid of the seeds that
may be attached.
Mechanical: Cutting, disking, mowing, dredging,
and flooding could potentially be short term controls
but usually result in shorter, more dense stands because
of rhizomes breaking free. Cutting
was found to be most effective but it has to
be done repeatedly and all the cut stalks
must be removed.
Cultural: Horses, cattle, and goats
can graze common reed but they are not
particularly effective in controlling it.
Biological: There is not currently a
bio-control agent approved for use in the
Chemical: Rodeo and Glyphosate can
be used after the plant flowers in late
August to early October.
Other: Prescribed burning can be a
form of control however it does not get rid
of the rhizomes.
Reed." Common Reed. Web. 11 Aug.
2. "Common Reed." Noxious Weed Control Board
(NWCB). Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/detail.asp?weed=101>.
3. "Invasive Species: Aquatic Species - Common Reed (Phragmites
Australis)." Invasive Species: Aquatic Species - Common Reed
(Phragmites Australis). Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/commonreed.shtml>.
4."Skip Menu." Identification and Control of Common Reed
(Phragmites Australis) in Virginia. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/427/427-101/427-101.html>.
5. United States. National Park Service. "Common Reed
(Phragmites Australis)." National Parks Service. U.S.
Department of the Interior. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/phau.htm>.
6. "Weed of the Week." Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/common-reed.pdf>.
8/11/15 by: Alycia