Why is reed canary grass such a problem?
The highly competitive reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) now dominates seasonal wetlands and other sites throughout North America. Like purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and cattails (Typha x glauca), reed canary grass spreads quickly and forms dense monocultures with which few native species can compete, resulting in an overall loss of biodiversity, including reduced diversity of physical and abiotic features, flora, and fauna. Some wetland flowers you may NOT see in a wetland dominated by reed canary grass, from left to right: swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), blue-flag iris (Iris versicolor), Michigan lily (Lilium michiganense). Photographs by Laura Phillips, 1998. Impacts on native vegetation For decades, the increased spread of reed canary grass in natural areas has been accompanied by a decrease in native wetland and wet prairie species. Barnes (1999) monitored the vegetation on a small river island in western Wisconsin over a period of 15 years. During that time,