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365 Urban Species. #025: Phragmites


Urban Species #025: Phragmites australis

Phragmites australis is sometimes known as common reed, or even giant reed, but often it's simply called phragmites (frag-mighties). Phragmites is an impressive species of grass that likes to live with its roots muddy and its seeds held high on plumes up to twenty feet above. The roots (and subterranean stems called rhizomes) form dense mats that hold together soil at water edges, and prevent other plants from growing. The seeds are carried away by the wind and water. Human use of the land tends to increase the spread of phragmites: the reed can outcompete other plants in salty and sandy riverbanks.

In Boston's Fens, the dense reeds occasionally catch fire (as likely by malicious intent as by accident) and burn down to the mud. Fresh growth soon follows, and the plant can reach its full height in one growing season.

Phragmites occurs on every continent but Antarctica, and is considered an invasive species in North America. Many native bird and amphibian species take advantage of the thick cover it creates, but the reeds tend to overwhelm and exclude native plants. Parks departments across the east of the continent are continually kept busy trying to control the spread of giant reed.

cottonmanifesto took some more pictures. (Locations: Photos 1-4: The Riverway. Photo #5: The Fens.)

(It's interesting to me that we only have pictures of it in winter.)


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2006 07:45 am (UTC)
I came here to give you this link:
because I want you to see the very last Japan picture called
"Pigeon fluffing" ... so cute and also so off topic sorry.

On Phragmites, yup:
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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