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Old 07-07-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Midwest
Default Phragmites australis - Common Reed

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Common reed, or Phragmites, is a tall, perennial grass that can grow to over 15 feet in height. In North America, both native phragmites (Phragmites australis ssp. americanus Saltonstall, P.M. Peterson & Soreng) and introduced subspecies are found. Introduced Phragmites forms dense stands which include both live stems and standing dead stems from previous yearís growth.
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Once introduced Phragmites invades a site it quickly can take over a marsh community, crowding out native plants, changing marsh hydrology, altering wildlife habitat, and increasing fire potential. Its high biomass blocks light to other plants and occupies all the growing space belowground so plant communities can turn into a Phragmites monoculture very quickly.
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It can be difficult to definitively distinguish native from introduced Phragmites plants without genetic testing due to the plasticity of the species and its ability to adapt to a wide range of conditions. However, a number of morphological characteristics have now been identified that can be used to determine a populationís type.
PCA Alien Plant Working Group - Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
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