Common Reed

Common Reed - Phragmites australis

General Description
Phragmites is a perennial rhizomatous grass. It is usually considered a wetland species and is often found in disturbed areas.

Identification
Phragmites has slender, lanceolate leaves 8 to 12 inches long. It can grow up to 18 feet and produces a large cluster of dense floral spikelets. Common reed occurs in dense mats up to 300 stems per square yard.

Origin
Phragmites is found on every continent except Antarctica. Fossil records show that the species has been present in North America for thousands of years. Changes in land use patterns, hydrologic regimes, pollution, and urbanization of the landscape over the last few centuries may have set the stage for Phragmites to act as an invasive species.

How It Spreads
Common reed can reproduce by seed, but most reproduction occurs underground through root-like structures called rhizomes.

Control Methods
Cutting, digging, or pulling can be done in late July. Cut plants should be bagged and removed from the site to prevent re-sprouting.

In early fall, plants in very small infestations can be cut at knee level and glyphosate applied to the stumps using a "weed wand." Larger infestations are treated by spraying leaves with glyphosate in the early fall. Multiple applications are generally required.

Last updated: August 1, 2017

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