Invasive Phragmites…On Our Shores   by Matt Reiter, SCA Environmental Committee

During the month of April 2016, I attended the Toronto Phragmites Workshop organized by Georgian Bay Forever (GBF).  The workshop focused on the identification, removal and management of invasive phragmites.  Heather Sargeant, Communications Director for GBF hosted the workshops which included a number of knowledgeable and informative speakers on the topic.  Instead of providing a detailed recap, I will summarize what phragmites is and how we can participate in stopping its spread in the South Channel.

What is Invasive Phragmites?  Phragmites (European Common Reed) is an invasive perennial grass that spreads quickly, grows tall, very densely and out-competes native plants for nutrients and water.  Before long, it becomes the dominant species chocking out native plants and destroying the habitats that other species rely on. Phragmites damage our wetlands, beaches and shorelines and reduce biodiversity.  Aside from the ecological impact, it could also have an impact on your property value and the areas that you enjoy. 

How can you help? The easiest way to help is to participate by learning how to identify invasive phragmites and reporting its location in the South Channel.  With your help in identifying and reporting we will assess how widespread the problem is and begin to develop a plan to deal with it.

How can you identify Invasive Phragmites?  There are plenty of readily available resources on the internet and the GBF website is a great starting place. Tips and resources for identifying invasive phragmites can be found at http://

How can you report the location of Invasive phragmites?  Help us identify locations or suspected locations of phragmites in the South Channel, please feel free to send me an e-mail at  to report the location. 

There is also an easy to use mobile app made available by EDDMapS Ontario for your Apple and Android devices that can be found on iTunes or the Google Play stores.  For your reference, their website and links to the apps can be found at ontario/    Please be sure to download the app and use it to report the location of phragmites if you spot it on our shores. 

How can you remove Invasive Phragmites?   If you locate invasive phragmites on your property early action to eradicate it will pay off tenfold… and your neighbors will thank you.   Here is how you can do that.   Cut phragmites in August before the seed head matures.  Cut at the base of the plant at a low angle just below the surface.  The spade in your shed works perfectly for this, just don’t cut to deep. Pick-up all cuttings and remnants of the plants....don’t leave any remnants behind as the can spread and take hold in new locations.  Dry out the plants in an area of your property away from the water and where the wind will not spread them. Burn them in your fire pit or burn barrel…but please be sure to follow local regulations for open air burning.

If you have any comments, questions or would like to report phragmites on our shores, please feel free to send me an e-mail at  We will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates.

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