Report invasive Phragmites; help inform MAISRC research
If you’ve ever seen a dense grass growing up to ten feet tall near wetlands, stormwater ponds, or along a roadside, chances are it could be invasive Phragmites, also known as common reed. MAISRC researchers are currently studying the distribution of this invasive plant, and now is the perfect time for you to get involved.
If you see Phragmites that you suspect is invasive near your home, work, or elsewhere, let us know at MNPhrag@umn.edu. MAISRC researchers will send you a kit so you can identify it, gather a sample, and mail it back to us. Researchers will use these samples to genetically confirm its non-native status (Minnesota is home to native Phragmites as well).
“In order to make management recommendations for this species, we first need to get a grip on where it is found in the state,” said researcher Sue Galatowitsch. “We need many sets of eyes on the lookout.”
In addition to mapping distribution, this project will assess the reproductive potential of Phragmites by collecting seed heads and assessing seed viability. Researchers will also determine if seed viability varies in different parts of the state due to differences in the length of the growing season or other localized conditions. Knowing whether it can spread by seed (sexually) or just vegetatively (clonally) is important; if it is spreading by seeds, which disperse by wind and water, eradication and control will likely be much more difficult and expensive.
Researchers will work with agency partners to develop management protocols for responding to different invasion scenarios. Response plans will vary based on the age and size of the invasion, how it’s reproducing, and whether the population is close to any sensitive ecological resources such as a wetlands or wild rice waters. Management actions will consider cost, feasibility, ecological benefit, and potential outcomes.
Invasive Phragmites grow significantly taller and denser than its native counterpart and can lower plant diversity, alter food webs, and reduce diversity and abundance of invertebrates, fish, and waterfowl. Without fully understanding its distribution, new invasions may go untreated while indiscriminate treatment of suspected invasions may impact the native species.