Local group is determined to eliminate invasive plant

October 21, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

You’ve most likely seen the feathery tops that adorn these tall reed-like plants that are sprouting up all around the county. 

They’re nice too look at, however, phragmite australis is an invasive species that takes over wetland areas, kills off native species and is a hazard to wildlife.

The plant can block drainage areas causing flooding and potential damage to farm land.

Called ‘phrag’ for short, this plant can grow over 20 feet tall.

The plant reproduces quickly with each seed head containing around 2,000 seeds.

A local group called Phrag Fighters was created to spread awareness and attempt to rid the country of this invasive species. 

As of October Phrag Fighters has 132 members led by president Ernie and Angela Lynch. The group was started in Mulmur Township but has expand to include the other municipalities in Dufferin County.

The plant was introduced to North America around 200 years ago from Europe and has been steadily growing across the Eastern side of the continent. It is now widespread in Southern Ontario and is spreading west. 

“It will eventually occupy and dominate all areas that have any noticeable water content,” Mr. Lynch explained. “This includes everything from roadsides to streams and lakes. It is a mono-culture with no predators. It will end all native plant species that we are familiar with in these areas. Wildlife cannot access or traverse it whether aquatic, amphibious, or mammal. Farmers are at great risk as it can occupy land and is so dense that it blocks regular drainage causing flooding.”

Eliminating the plant will take a lot of work, using a step-by-step process.

First of all, the Phrag Fighters want to spread awareness that the plant is an invasive species. This will include a complete inventory of plant locations around the area.

A mass clipping of seed heads in 2020 to slow down the spread will be followed by cutting down the actual plant.

Finally, killing and eliminating root systems to stop the spread of the species, preferably with non-chemical methods.

The group has started a Facebook page, Mulmur Melancthon Mono Amaranth Phrag Fighters, to spread awareness and connect with others about the problem of this invasive species in the area.


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