Deceptively innocent looking isn't it? Don't be fooled. Phragmites australis is an invasive species of reed grass that crowds out native species and eventually takes over any wet areas it can sink its greedy roots!
I didn't know a thing about this aquatic plant until I moved back home last August. My cousin talked about it and how he has to burn it each year in our drainage ditches to keep it from blocking them completely. I began to notice just how prevalent this species is. It is in every single body of water I've seen in our area! It has taken over the wildlife area in the Toussaint River and now the native grasses are gone.
I've learned that there are only two ways to control it: pulling by hand or spraying it with a strong concentration of RoundUp. I use both methods and it's still a constant battle to keep it under control. Pulling it without gloves leads to tiny cuts all over my hands that make it look like I lost a fight with a razor blade--very painful paper cuts all over my fingers that lasted for days! I don't like using RoundUp but I will as a last resort. It also helps keep the cattails under control. Cattails are another non-native species hailing from England, but they are much easier to control and much less insidious! Phragmites doesn't need much water to grow. Just an inch or so of standing water is enough to get it started!
I post this entry as a public service warning. If you see anything that even closely resembles this plant growing on your property do what you can to eliminate it before it gets out of control!