Another invasive plant may be taking root in Mona Lake and will need prompt attention. Phragmites australis (frag-MY-teez), also known as common reed, is a perennial, wetland grass that can grow up to 15 feet in height.
While phragmites australis is native to Michigan, an invasive non-native, European variety of phragmites is becoming widespread and is threatening the ecological health of wetlands and the Great Lakes coastal shoreline. Invasive phragmites creates tall, dense stands which degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals, blocking shoreline views, reducing access for swimming, fishing, and hunting and can create fire hazards from dry plant material.
Phragmites spreads at an incredible rate, by a variety of methods. In sparse stands of the grass, shoots that fall over become horizontal runners. Shoots and rhizomes grow from the nodes, spreading the plant far beyond its original bounds.
Phragmites can be controlled using an integrated pest management approach which includes an initial herbicide treatment followed by mechanical removal (e.g., cutting, mowing) and annual maintenance. For large areas with dense stands of phragmites, prescribed burning used after herbicide treatment can provide additional control and ecological benefits over mechanical removal.
Early detection is key to preventing large dense stands and it is also more cost efficient. Currently, the Muskegon Conservation District is helping to manage Phragmites on Muskegon Lake and is exploring assistance on Mona Lake. View the invasive phragmites video for more information.