Com­mu­nity Fights Phrag­mites


Brooke Har­ri­son, Alex DiCin­tio and Briar Hall have spent the sum­mer fight­ing an alien in­va­sion of a dif­fer­ent kind – Phrag­mites – also known as the Com­mon Reed.

The trio was hired by the Bruce Penin­sula Bio­sphere As­so­ci­a­tion (BPBA) to mon­i­tor and cut the in­va­sive reeds along the Lake Huron shore­line.

The in­va­sive plant spreads through seeds and roots, so it can’t sim­ply be pulled out.

“When cut prop­erly close to the ground, there could be up to a 60 per cent re­duc­tion in the reeds’ area each year,” DiCin­tio, who is orig­i­nally from Dor­cas Bay, said. Dis­turb­ing the roots can ac­tu­ally lead to faster spread, he said.

Har­ri­son, who has a de­gree in En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence from Trent Univer­sity, said, “It’s best to cut it down at the end of the sea­son, bag the seed heads and don’t dis­turb the roots.” She added, “The her­bi­cide used to treat it on land can’t be used in wa­ter, so cut­ting the reed stems two feet un­der­wa­ter helps to drown the roots.”

Pat and Brian Cameron, who cot­tage at Lit­tle Red Bay, helped with the BPBA em­ploy­ees’ ef­forts on Aug. 30.

“We’re con­cerned that the spread of Phrag­mites will threaten the boat­ing ac­cess, rare lo­cal fen flow­ers and prop­erty val­ues,” Pat Cameron said, adding, “It’s fan­tas­tic that the Bruce Penin­sula Bio­sphere As­so­ci­a­tion has hired Brooke, Alex and Briar to help us learn to get this in­va­sive species un­der con­trol.”

Since its ar­rival in the Great Lakes 40 years ago, Phrag­mites has now be­come Canada’s worst in­va­sive plant species and is threat­en­ing the ecol­ogy of the whole Lake Huron shore­line, ac­cord­ing to the Lake Huron Cen­tre for Coastal Con­ser­va­tion (LHCCC).

The name is de­rived from the Greek word Phragma, which means fence or hedge and it can grow into dense colonies up to five me­tres high.

“We’ve been work­ing with friends on the Bay for sev­eral years to con­trol the spread of Phrag­mites by cut­ting it down,” Brian Cameron said. “The patch keeps grow­ing back but each year it is smaller and weaker and this year there were no flower heads.”

The BPBA has been cut­ting Phrag­mites in com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing Sauble Beach, Hope Bay and How­den­vale. Up­com­ing com­mu­nity cuts are planned for Oliphant, Pike Bay and John­son’s Har­bour. For in­for­ma­tion con­tact Amanda Stanger at or (647) 885-6998.

A lo­cal South Bruce Penin­sula Phrag­mites vol­un­teer group has been started with a Face­book page and email news­let­ter; for in­for­ma­tion con­tact Donna Ste­wart at don­nastew­


Pat (sec­ond from the left) and Brian Cameron (cen­tre), Lit­tle Red Bay cot­tagers, were joined by Brooke Har­ri­son (left), Alex DiCin­tio and Briar Hall, Bruce Penin­sula Bio­sphere As­so­ci­a­tion em­ploy­ees, for a pho­to­graph af­ter the group cut down in­va­sive Phrag­mites in Lit­tle Red Bay, Aug. 30.

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