INVASIVE PLANTS OF OHIO
Fact Sheet 5 - Factsheet in .pdf format
Common Reed Grass
Common reed grass is a tall, invasive perennial wetland grass ranging in height from 3-15 feet. The plant produces horizontal rhizomes that grow on or beneath the ground and produce roots and vertical stalks (culms). The rhizomes allow the plant to form large colonies. The stiff, hollow stalks support leaf blades which are smooth, broad and flat (11/2 - 2 inches wide). A large terminal inflorescence (panicle) is produced in late June and is purplish in flower and grayish in fruit. Large quantities of seed are produced, however, most or all of the seed may not be viable.
Common reed grass is prevalent in open wetland habitats and favors alkaline and brackish waters. These areas include drier borders and elevated areas of brackish and freshwater marshes, along riverbanks and lake shores and almost anywhere there are slight depressions that hold moisture. The species is particularly frequent in disturbed or polluted soils along roadsides, ditches and dredged areas. It is also known to tolerate highly acidic conditions.
Some populations of common reed grass are more invasive than others and may be non-native. It is suspected that the nonnative, aggressive strain of common reed grass was introduced to North America in the early 20th century. It can now be found throughout the United States. In Ohio, this strain is primarily found in the northern part of the state, however it has recently progressed south.
Common reed grass can be considered a natural component of some undisturbed wetlands. However, the invasive strain grows aggressively in areas that are disturbed or stressed by pollution, dredging or other alteration of the natural hydrologic regime. Invasive stands of common reed grass eliminate diverse wetland plant communities, providing little food or shelter for wildlife.
Cutting, pulling or mowing can be done in late July and should be repeated for several years. All cut shoots should be carefully removed to prevent re-sprouting. The placement of black plastic over cut stems has had some success and burning in combination with herbicide application has also been effective in some situations. Hydrologic controls such as flooding for an extended period during the growing season may also be successful.
Herbicide application with AccordÂ®, RodeoÂ® or GlyproÂ® is most effective in the early fall, after tasseling, and should be applied at least two years in a row. Fusilade DXÂ®, a grass specific herbicide can be applied in nonaquatic areas. Methods of application will depend on the associated plant community but may include aerial spraying, hand-held or backpack sprayers and hand-wicking.
No biological controls are known at this time.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SOURCES:
Marks, M., B. Lapin and J. Randall. 1994. Phragmites australis (P. communis): Threats, Management and Monitoring. Natural Areas Journal 14(4): 285-294.
Randall, J. 1993. Element Stewardship Abstract for Phragmites australis. The Nature Conservancy.