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Phragmites Field Guide: Distinguishing Native and Exotic Reeds


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PDF 34 pages 3 sub-species many images of Common Reed Phragmites australis and sub-species by Jil Swearingen and Kristin Saltonstall May 19, 2010. This field guide is the outcome of a request by Brock Benson, Range Management Specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Utah, to have a handy guide for field use to help identify and differentiate between native and exotic forms of common reed. This field guide presents the most current information available on the origin, distribution, taxonomy, genetics and morphological differentiation of native and introduced forms of Phragmites australis. The authors extend a special thanks to Robert Meadows, Delaware Mosquito Control Section, and to Dr. Robert Sorengand, Dr. Paul Peterson, Smithsonian Institution Department of Botany, for their helpful review and contributions. Images in this booklet were used with permission. Credit is provided on each image as well as in the Image Credits at the end of the document.

In North America, Phragmites is represented by three distinct lineages based on genetic analysis. One is native and endemic to North America, one is found in both North and South America, and the third is introduced and invasive. The native endemic lineage (Phragmites australis ssp. americanus Saltonstall, Peterson and Soreng) (Fig. 1) was historically widespread, occurring throughout Canada and most of the U.S. except for the Southeast (Texas to Florida and north to South Carolina). It remains widespread in the western U.S.

In the eastern U.S., the native has been largely replaced by the invasive lineage and is found in scattered locations throughout its historic range. Some remaining populations occur along several major rivers on the eastern shore of Maryland, part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In the Midwest and western U.S., native Phragmites persists in many natural areas and has been shown to be actively dispersing to new sites in recent years.

The Gulf Coast lineage has been recognized as Phragmites australis sub sp. berlandieri Saltonstall & Hauber (Fig. 2). Its distribution is restricted to the southernmost states and it has been introduced to southern Arizona and California. It is not clear at this time if it is truly native to the U.S. or spread north from populations in Mexico and Central America.

Phragmites Field Guide: Distinguishing Native and Exotic Forms of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in the United States.

Regions impacted: (See related documents in region) Central Plains, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, Middle Atlantic, Middle West, MidWest, MidWestern, New England, Northeast, Northeastern, Northwest, Northwestern, Pacific, Pacific Alaska, Rocky Mountain, South Atlantic, Southeast, Southern, Southwest, USA

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