The invasion of the Common Reed
Scientific Name: Phragmites Australis Common Name: Common Reed or Phragmites
The Common Reed is an aggressive, densely growing type of perennial tall grass. This height and density allows it to form near mono-cultures that easily outcompete the plants trying to grow around it, guaranteeing the common reed all the space it needs to thrive. After years of growth litter buildup then prevents any other plants from even germinating. Finally, the common reed is very resilient in the fact that it can withstand a wide variety of environmental conditions. These 3 factors of the common reed allow it to invade and thrive very successfully.
Bibliography United States. National Park Service. "Common Reed (Phragmites Australis)."National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. Phragmites." CC Birds. N.p., n.d. Web. "The Common Reed Threat." Common Reed Map. N.p., n.d. Web
The Common Reed is native to the Americas and Eurasia, however, the highly invasive type that has taken over the US marshland originated in Europe. The Common Reed is mostly found around banks of water. With the exception of the Amazon Basin and Central Africa, the common reed has spread to all temperate zones, from the Sahara to the Arctic.
The way that the common reed is spread into new areas is through the breaking off of fragments of rhizome that are dispersed by animals, water, machinery or humans. The Common Reed can spread by seeds being dispersed by animals, water, machinery, and humans as well.
The problem with the Common Reed invading all the areas it has because it completely dominates all non-woody plants due to its density and prevents other species from germinating by buildup of litter. The Common Reed is capable of taking over vast areas of important wetland plant growth and wiping it out altogether. This disrupts an ecosystem, leading to certain species going extinct in the area, certain species of plants going extinct in the area, and in rare cases complete obliteration of an ecosystem.
Since the Common Reed has become such a threat humans have developed a way of fighting it off. First, a blend herbicides are used to kill the resilient Common Reed and then mechanical methods are employed such as continuous mowing, plowing and harvesting to prevent the buildup of litter from the Common Reed that strangles the plants around it so even if it is surviving it is not disrupting the ecosystem
Here is a visual of how much damage the common reed can do to a single ecosystem, almost completely wiping it clean of vegetation
The area in green shows states being threatened by the common reed...all 50. This shows how successful the common reed has been in its methods of invasion and sustainability. It has even reached Hawaii.

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