Photo credit: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
A tall wetland grass species
Regional genetic variations are found in many parts of the world, including the U.S.
At least one European variety was introduced into the U.S., most likely in the 1800s. It is far more aggressive than the native genetic varieties and has become a serious invader of brackish wetlands in eastern and Midwestern states.
The invasive Phragmites is abundant along the east coast. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recently mapped over 2300 acres of Phragmites that has invaded wetlands on the seaside and barrier islands of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Phragmites overwhelms other marsh plant species from above and below with tall stems that may be 15 feet in height and fast growing underground stems that form new shoots and a thick tangled root mat. By forming tall dense stands with few other plant species, Phragmites creates a habitat that lacks value to wildlife.
Once established, it is very difficult and expensive to control. In Virginia, state and federal agencies have partnered with The Nature Conservancy, local governments, and private landowners to control Phragmites at priority natural areas.
View the DCR Natural Heritage Phragmites management brochure here >>.