Intrepid group attacks phragmites

Non-native phragmites are an invasive plant that displaces native plants. We have one major area of phragmites in Cedarvale, just north of the Glen Cedar footbridge. (There are actually four types of phragmites, one of which is native; the others are invasive and displace native plants e.g. cat-tails. I believe what we have is one of the non-native species). This is what it looks like:

Cedarvale phragmites 007

They grow to a considerable height (around 3 metres). Here is a closer view of the enemy!

Cedarvale phragmites 013

Together with Parks, we decided to try and reduce the size of the area taken over by phragmites. On Saturday 29th August an intrepid initial group of 5 of us picked up the gloves and shears provided by Parks and started cutting the phragmites stalks. Unfortunately, I did not take a “before” picture, but the first photo above is what it would have looked like. Here is the “after” photo, with the phragmites gone and a few stalks left on the ground.

Cedarvale phragmites 009

In the “interior”, behind the wall of phragmites, we discovered this rather unsavoury looking swamp. Many of the phragmites are growing in this murky water, which is quite deep. We will require hip-waders in order to penetrate this area. Another idea is to attack it in winter, once the water is frozen hard enough to walk on.

Cedarvale phragmites 010

Another hazard we discovered was red ants. Much of the ground in which the phragmites grow is teeming with these creatures, which quickly ascend your shoes, socks, pants and legs. Several of our number were not wearing heavy footwear and pants tucked in socks; they eventually withdrew from the front line and helped pile up the cut phragmites. Below you can see the five of us: from left, Warren, Marilyn, me, Roberta and Judy:

Cedarvale phragmites krishna 3!cid_ii_ie2zvyl82_14f8ee05e8e60cf9

Here is the pile of cut phragmites, under the footbridge. You can still see it there, now rapidly drying out.

Cedarvale phragmites 011

Part-way through, we were joined by Krishna (on right) and Jeet, who helped out,  took the “people” photos and sent them to me:

Cedarvale phragmites Krishna 4!cid_ii_ie2zvyld3_14f8ee05e8e60cf9

Later again, we were joined by my friends Miguel and Gabriela, bringing our total crew to nine. We carried out some educational commentary as we were working. This being Saturday, quite a number of people were passing. Many of them asked what we were doing and we did our best to answer.

We hope to take out another patch of phragmites at some future date, hopefully with more volunteers.

John Cummings