Fight the Phrag

Tall plants growing in front of grassland.

Take Action to Combat Invasives

Invasive species have become so common in Canada, that the Ontario based Invasive Species Centre now dedicates an entire week to educating the public about the spread of invasives and how to fight them. In fact, this week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW).

Tall grass growing in foreground and wetland in background.
Phragmites are commonly found along shorelines and roadside ditches.

From February 20 to 26, learn about invasive species management and what you can do to help reduce the spread of invasive species on the Ontario Invasive Species Centre website. Now is a great opportunity to get to know more about an invasive plant species you may have seen, phragmites, and how to stop its spread.

What is Phragmites?

Invasive phragmites, also known as common reed, is a perennial grass that has been damaging ecosystems in Ontario since it was first transported to North America from its native home in Eurasia decades ago. Phragmites is commonly found in the Credit River Watershed in floodplains, wetlands and along roadways. It ranges from the bottom of the watershed in Mississauga, to the top of the watershed in Orangeville.

A thin plant stem with a fluffy seedhead.
Phragmites carry small seeds that can easily spread across long distances. Each seed head contains up to 2,000 seeds.

Many invasive plants spread quickly and aggressively by seed or underground roots called rhizomes. Phragmites spreads by both methods and forms colonies that crowd out other native plants, takes over garden beds, and moves into surrounding landscapes and destroys habitat.

What CVC is Doing?

We’re continuing to respond to the threats of invasive species in the in the Credit River Watershed, which includes managing the spread of invasive species on our properties. Currently, there are over 184 invasive species in the watershed. We find them in natural areas throughout our communities.

This spring, we are once again hosting invasive species removal events at our parks. These volunteer events are a great opportunity to get involved in your community and are a way for students to earn high school volunteer hours. Check our events page to learn more.

Four people using weed wrenches and to pull plants out of the ground.
In 2022, volunteers removed more than 16,700 square metres of invasive plants. That’s the size of 11 hockey rinks!

We also have a 10-year plan in our Invasive Species Strategy, which outlines priorities that CVC’s staff are actioning across the Credit River Watershed.

How you Can Help

Fighting phragmites might seem like a daunting task, but together, we can reduce its spread and give native plants a chance to grow. The Invasive Species Council lists steps you can take to help stop the spread of invasive species on your property and while you explore nature:

  • Do not plant invasive phragmites or spread it use it in fall decorations. In Ontario, it is illegal to import, deposit, release, breed/grow, buy, sell, lease or trade invasive phragmites. It’s restricted under the Invasive Species Act.
  • Use only native or non-invasive plants in your garden. Ask garden centres for plants that are not invasive.
  • Stay on designated trails. Leaving trails or entering areas with invasive plants can encourage their spread. When leaving an area with invasive plants, brush off clothing and clean equipment onsite to avoid transferring seeds to new areas. Remove all visible portions of plants and dispose of them in the garbage.
  • Do not compost invasive plants. Both seeds and rhizomes can survive and grow in compost.

For more information on handling invasive phragmites and other species in accordance with the Invasive Species Act, visit the Ontario government’s resource Managing Invasive Species in Ontario. Invasive species may feel like a battle already lost but it’s not. Together, we can give native plants the best opportunity to grow when we work together and learn  about plants in our communities.

Learn more about invasive species in the Credit River Watershed.

Interested in learning more about National Invasive Species Awareness Week? Join the conservation on social media by following #InvSpWk on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

By Kimberley Laird, Associate, Marketing and Communications 

Comments (3)

    1. Credit Valley Conservation

      Hi there, CVC currently manages phragmites on a number of our lands. Unfortunately phragmites is present throughout much of the Credit River Watershed. As it’s management is complex, a coordinated approach between land managers (municipalities/regions, private landowners, the public, land developers, conservation authorities, NGO’s etc.) is needed in order to bring it under control. Our invasive species management staff are available to provide support and guidance to those who are engaging in management activities and we continue to manage it where feasible on our properties.

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