Saturday, February 20, 2016

Toronto's Invader: Phragmites australis

I was driving through my old 'hood this afternoon (northern Etobicoke), when I was distracted by a roadside invader that has caused a visual barrier that never used to be there. As a teen, I used to cross this roadway to reach to the other side.  Now I can barely see what lies beyond the reed grass growing in this spot. I can't imagine what it would look like in summer. No pruning gets done here. New spring growth will eventually weave through this winter thatch.

 I can't get over, how in the last 5 years, this invader has taken over.

Phragmites australis is a native to Eurasia and seems to be unstoppable.

Ah...excuse me Toronto, we have a problem. Southern Ontario, we have a MAJOR problem.

Within a 500 meter walking distance, the familiar Bullrushes /Cattails I used to collect as a kid still survive. Just barely, that is.

Not the most attractive photo due to the time of year, but this Cattail (Typha latifolia) was original to this roadside ditch. The area just north of this commercial landscape is 1km south of the northern branch of the Humber River.

It naturally migrated down south from the river and has done a marvellous job of reducing stagnant water ways along these ditches.  I can remember running my fingers over the reeds for a lengthy distance.

I would always be amazed when watching so many birds take the fuzzy seed heads and make spring nests for their egg laying, given it's right next to a busy roadside. I am glad they still remain. But for how much longer?

This 500 meter stretch has more Phragmites than Typha. So sad.

It's not a bad looking grass. But look at the size of it!

It towers over my head by at least another 3 feet.

My greatest worry: the Humber River is just 1km north. The Toronto Regional Conservation Authority has confirmed it has reached the rivers' ecosystem already. This is the greatest concern for me. Phragmites has such an aggressive root system that can overtake native species rather quickly. It is a true bully: by releasing a toxic by-product at the root level, which hampers the growth of native plants trying to compete. People - this is a huge ecological factor to our wetlands and native flora and fauna. Please read up on how invasive this plant  is here ---> Ontario's Invading Species Awareness website. There you will find ways to hamper its spread.

If you own property, and you notice this plant, please do your best to keep it at bay or to remove it entirely from your land.  

I've seen folks cutting some of the flower plumes to take indoors. Just know, when doing so you might be the catalyst in bringing hundreds of seeds, possibly spreading this bully to your neck of the woods. Be wise.

Here are practical ways to help control this invader:  Ontario Phragmites Working Group .

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting and viewing my blog! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...