History of Phragmites australis

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History of Phragmites australis

  • Are native to Eurasia.
  • Have been present in North America for at least 3 000 years.
  • Probably introduced accidentally to North America in ballast material sometime during the late 1700s or early 1800s.
  • First observed in Ontario along the St. Lawrence River in 1916.
  • Later found at Walpole Island in Lake St. Clair in 1948.
  • Rapid expansion occurred during the 1990’s.
  • Reasons for dramatic increases could be due to:
    • Habitat disturbances,
    • Improper removal of dead Phragmites plant material,
    • Stresses such as pollution,
    • Increased wetland salinity from road de-icing salts,
    • Contamination from equipment travelling from site to site,
    • Changes in local water systems and seasonal temperatures.
  • This robust grass is now established in most Lake Erie and Lake Huron wetlands.
  • It is getting a foot hold in Lake Superior coastal habitats.
  • It wasn’t until 2005, that Agriculture and Agri-food Canada identified invasive Phragmites as the nation’s “worst” invasive plant.

Sources:
Ontario Phragmites Working Group:  www.opwg.ca