Sunday, November 02, 2008

Invasion of the Common Reed

I had the occasion recently to drive between Quebec City and Montreal and during that drive I was astonished at the continuous growth of Phragmites Australis a.k.a. the Common Reed, for, I would guess, at least 100 solid kilometres. I had to stop the car, get out and take the these pictures of this biological phenomenon. The plant literally coated both sides of the 4 lane highway and the median for many many kilometres without interruption.

Phragmites is a recent but known invasive weed in eastern Ontario. It was first brought to my attention by Fred and Aleta when I visited the Bishops Mills Natural History Centre, located less than half an hour from here. For more on the centre see

My neighbour has a very large 2 to 3 acre pond and its north west shore is covered with the plant. He told me once that he lost balance and fell into the weed and its was so sturdy that it broke his fall and held him up.

Around here there appears to be two types of Phragmites. There is the dark very thick tassel variety and a silky white thinner tassel variety. The dark tassel appears notably more invasive in that its stands are typically large and dense and like the type pictured here. The white variant appears to be much less aggressive in its growth and not as dense. The white variety is also often seen as a landscaping plant now in the suburban gardens of Ottawa.

For a fairly thorough study of the plant see:

In a later post, I hope to compare pictures of both types side-by-side.