Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday with the Phragmites

Maybe something like a dust mite comes to mind, but instead read it as a three syllable word, pronounce the second half "mighty's" and think plants. Phragmite is the scientific or botanical name for the common reed, often found in wetland areas in temperate and tropical regions of the world. They are perennial plants, meaning that they live longer than two years, and can grow to be 15 feet tall and spread up to 60 feet.

You may have heard more about these reeds lately because they are quite prolific. Sometimes referred to as an invasive species, phragmites in large numbers can be harmful to wetlands. Recently, residents of Grand Haven, MI were invited to a forum to learn more about phragmites and the potential implications for local bayous and rivers. They pose threats  to native species, wildlife habitat and shore views. Because they grow rather densely and spread far, they drink up a good deal of water and make it hard for other plants or animals to get through or share their habitat area. There is scientific debate as to whether this plant is native to North America or had European origins. Since roots grow very deep, one of the best known ways to control this plant is by burning it over two to three seasons.

Read more about phragmites from this USDA site or on this UW Sea Grant page. For general reading on invasive species, see the library's recommended reading list. We are also working on adding some new kids' books on invasive species to the collection, so check back soon for those.

Photo from wikipedia.