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Here we are, at the end of our “Top Ten Invasive Species on Beaver Island” list.

…And the number one invasive species on Beaver Island is [a drum roll would be helpful here]…

PHRAGMITES!!!

Common Reed.

Here on Beaver Island, just as in Michigan generally, two subspecies are present.

The native type of Phragmites, subspecies americanus, is a natural and beneficial part of our shoreline and wetlands vegetation. It may grow, at most, to be about six and a half feet tall. It grows as scattered stems that break down quickly, allowing other species enough light and space to grow beneath it. Stalks turn a lovely bronze color in the fall.

The invasive form of Phragmites,  subspecies australis, is much more robust. It begins growing earlier in the season and continues later in the fall than native Phragmites. It grows twelve to twenty feet in height and sends out rhizomes up to fifty feet in every direction. It forms a dense, impenetrable  wall of sharp edged grass that can dominate shorelines and wetlands within only a few years.

Invasive Phragmites does not provide food or shelter or protection to any animal in this part of the world. It is capable of taking over the natural habitat of many plants and animals, destroying our natural landscape.

Here on Beaver Island, we have much to protect. The water that surrounds us is our shelter and our joy. Our inland lakes provide hunting and fishing and boating opportunities. The view and water activities enrich our lives and bring tourists and visitors, which many livelihoods depend on.

Can you picture Beaver Island without its beaches?

Imagine a trip around the island without ever seeing the water!

Beyond that, Beaver Island has some rare treasures.

Many species – that grow in abundance here – are protected or endangered…or have been completely wiped out in other areas.

Do you know that the little Michigan Monkey Flower that grows wild at Little Sand Bay here on Beaver Island represents twenty percent of that species worldwide?

Phragmites could, if left unchecked, destroy the delicate balance that allows this little gem to thrive here.

We don’t intend to let that happen.

At my end,  we’re busy preparing for this year’s September battle against invasive Phragmites. Permits and bids and permission slips are being drawn up; resources are being gathered and accounted for; plans are being made.

Your continued concern, support and vigilance in this battle is priceless!

 

 

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Isn’t this a pretty plant?

Smells good, too.

It produces edible berries that birds love.

Sometimes it is difficult to make an invasive species out to be the “bad guy” that it is.

It’s certainly easier to dislike…Poison Ivy, say…than this lovely shrub!

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus Umbellata), also known as Oleander or Japanese Silverberry has plenty of good things going for it, sure.

However…

  • The rapid growth and ability to provide a canopy of shade quickly displaces natural plants.
  • The ability to set nitrogen in the soil makes the ground too rich for many native species.
  • The berries are widely dispersed by birds, so spread is uncontrolled.
  • It has been noted that the variety of birds is reduced, in areas where Autumn Olive berries are the main food source.

 

Pretty as it is, this is not a plant we want taking over our fields and open areas.

Let’s continue to be watchful!

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