Phragmites – Quick Facts

Phragmites are extremely fast growing and spreading plants

  • Up to 2,000 seeds per head
  • Seed heads can be 15-40 centimetres (6-16 inches) long
  • As many as 200 stems can grow in a square metre (square yard).
  • Wind disperses seeds up to 10 kilometres.
  • Height of a mature plant can be over 5 metres (15 feet) tall.

  • Average spread of rhizomes (underground stems) is 40 centimetres (16 inches) per year.
  • Dense rhizome mats can range from 10 centimetres (4 inches) to 2.5 metres (8 feet) below ground.
  • Stolen (stems connected to parent plant growing along the soil surface) can grow up to 18 metres (60 feet) in length.
  • New plants can grow every 30 centimetres (1 foot) along stolens and rhizomes per year (Rhizomes spread below the ground.  Stolon spread above the ground).
  • Reed beds may be as much as 1 square kilometre (0.39 square miles) in extent.

Wood Drive, Lambton Shores

  • Reed beds can spread 5 metres (16 feet) or more per year.
  • In 1 square metre (1 square yard) there can be 40,000 potentially viable seeds.
  • Each stem/plant has not one, but several stolons and rhizomes.
  • Phragmites produce toxins from its roots which impedes the growth of native plants, and can kill all other insect, small animal and plant species.
  • Phragmites completely destroy the biodiversity which is essential for a vibrant and healthy ecosystem.
  • Seeds, and/or plants are spread by wind, water, animal and human movement (i.e. boats, trailers, ATV’s, construction equipment).
  • Hitchhiking rides on trucks or any piece of machinery carrying soil.  A piece of root is enough for it to easily establish itself and become a plant.

Sources:

Invasive Phragmites:  Best Management Practices
Invasive Species Fact Sheet
Invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed)