The fourth phase of a plan to control an invasive plant at Taquanyah Conservation Area, just west of Cayuga, is expected to begin October 1 and last approximately two weeks.
While phragmites is a problem throughout the province, it is important to control it at Taquanyah – one of only two locations in Ontario where an endangered plant, Virginia mallow, grows. Controlling phragmites is an essential step in ensuring that the Virginia mallow will continue to thrive in Taquanyah.
“We have made a significant investment at Taquanyah in order to bring back natural habitats,” explained Crystal Allan, Supervisor of Natural Heritage at the GRCA. “While it isn’t feasible to eliminate phragmites throughout the watershed, taking these steps at Taquanyah is very important to the biodiversity there.”
The property and its trails will be closed while the work is underway. Signs will be posted at main access points. A licensed pesticide applicator will apply the herbicide glyphosate, which is better known by the trade name Roundup. The herbicide has been widely adopted by conservation organizations as a safe and effective way to remove invasive species.
Phragmites, also known as the European common reed, is a tall grass with a big fluffy seed head that grows densely and out-competes native plants for water and nutrients. It also releases toxins from its roots into the soil to hinder the growth of other plants.
Controlling phragmites is part of the larger restoration effort that has been ongoing at Taquanyah since the removal of the reservoir in 2005. A management plan for phragmites was developed in 2015 to map where it grows and come up with a plan to manage it.
Virginia mallow is a perennial flowering herb that reaches one to three metres in height. The species has white flowers made up of five petals that grow in clusters and bloom in August.
Fact: Phragmitesaustralis subsp.Americanus is a native relative of the invasive Phragmites australis (European common reed). The native plant grows as one of many plants in a community. It doesn’t grow as tall or as densely and the seedheads are much smaller and more sparse.