Green Visions: thanks, immigrant ancestors, for ANOTHER fine mess

Oct 21, 2020

Credit Michigan Sea Grant/Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative


You say "frag-MITE-eez," not "FRAG-mites."

But the most important thing to know about phragmites is that it's an invasive, non-native species, not to be confused with native phragmites.

The invasives came to America originally from central and eastern Europe, and they've been marching steadily - if slowly - across the continent from New England.

Now the Community Action Duluth Stream Corps, headed by Brandon Van Tassel, is tasked with getting rid of the plants, which are a perfect topic of conversation this close to Halloween.

After all, what other plant can reach heights of 15', grows in a thick, dense stand that, on the outside, becomes a thicket of mosquitoes but on the inside, is an "ecological dead zone"?

The State of Minnesota has a lot of laws and regulations regarding who is allowed to scamper about the countryside applying herbicides to things, so it's better to leave the actual eradication efforts to the experts.  But those experts are anxious for help from citizen-scientists to identify stands of invasive phragmites when and where they can.  Here's how you can learn more:

More information about the Community Action Duluth's Stream Corps can be found here, and you can send questions to or