This giant grass is lovely. It’s also trouble.
If you live in North America, you’ve seen masses of this towering plant growing in roadside ditches and wetlands. This particular stalk lives with about a zillion of its buddies in a dense cluster just behind our Ontario home.
I don’t know much about botany, but thanks to my friend Google, I’ve done a little reading. I suspect that this may be the European Common Reed (fancy name: Phragmites australis), a non-native, invasive species of perennial grass that wreaks havoc on the ecosystem.
It’s aggressive and pushy, reducing plant biodiversity by crowding out native plants. It then provides a poor habitat for native wildlife species, including those at risk. Plus, it’s got a mean streak: it secretes a toxin into the soil that can kill the vegetation around it.
No wonder my garden adjacent to this grass looks like crap. (*note: I blame the invasive grass for the sad state of my garden instead of admitting that I may also simply be a crappy gardener.)
Methods of controlling this bully are intensive but not always effective: herbicides, controlled burning, flooding, etc. This grass is like the cockroach of the plant world. It’ll probably be the first plant to flourish after the apocalypse.
While my neighbours probably won’t appreciate it if I flood, burn, or poison the area behind our homes, there is something I can do (apart from swearing and hacking at the new shoots of invasive phragmites popping up in my lawn). EDDMapS provides an online reporting feature for the public to submit their sightings of invasive species.
I’ll get on that. But in the meantime, my photographer’s eye can’t help but appreciate the way the snow clings to the feathery seed heads, and the way the morning light glows through the reeds.
Read more about invasive phragmites here:
www.opwg.ca (Ontario Phragmites Working Group)