Visit our partners in environmental stewardship

District Municipality of Muskoka Muskoka Water Web

Invasive Phragmites


Phragmites australis
European common reed, or Phragmites australis, is an invasive plant from Europe and Asia now found throughout Ontario. In Muskoka, it is most often found in roadside ditches, wetlands,  and sandy areas along the Georgian Bay coast.


The plant spreads to new areas through stems, rhizomes and seeds. Rhizomes, broken by natural actions such as waves or through human actions like site disturbance, quickly spread and take root in new locations.


Once established, the plants quickly form thick stands that out-compete native species while the roots release toxins into the soil to inhibit the growth of other plants. These tall, dense stands degrade shoreline and wetland areas, block road-side views, reduce access to the water for swimming, fishing and hunting, and dry plant material can pose a fire hazard.



You can help stop the spread of Phragmites!

  • Learn how to identify invasive Phragmites and how to avoid accidentally spreading it through its root fragments and seeds.
  • Do not plant invasive Phragmites. Gardeners should use only native or non-invasive plants
  • Stay on designated trails and out of areas with invasive Phragmites. When leaving an area, brush off clothing and clean equipment onsite to avoid the transfer of seeds to new areas. Remove all visible portions of plants and dispose of them in a garbage bag.
  • Do not compost invasive Phragmites. Both seeds and rhizomes can survive and grow in compost.
  • Report sightings using the Invasive Species Awareness Program(, EDDMapS Ontario (, by phone at 1-800-563-7711 or by email at



Native or Not?

There is a native species of Phragmites found in wetlands that is not invasive. It is important to distinguish between the two species before initiating control efforts.


 Character    Native  Invasive
Height 2 m 5 m
Stand Sparse, found with other species Dense, up to 200 stems per m3
Flowers July-August August-September
Seed heads Smaller, less dense Dense, full & prolific
Stems Flexible, smooth, shiny reddish at base Rigid, rough, dull tan at base
Leaf colour Yellowish-green Bluish-green



Get your copy!


Keep the information above with you at all times with the Phragmites ID Card. Download a copy below or pick up a copy at our office!


Phragmites ID Card