On Sunday, March 11, at 1:00 P.M the Sandwich Conservation Trust sponsored an informative and educational Phragmites (common reed) program at the East Sandwich Grange Hall on Old County Road. The presentation by Tara Nye, staff biologist of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, and Dick Payne, Chairman, Falmouth Wetlands Invasives Steering Committee, explained the explosive spread and threat of this invasive wetland plant. This tall non-native plant displaces native species, reduces biodiversity, offers little value for wildlife, chokes waterways and has the potential to dominate our salt marshes, as well as the shorelines of our fresh water ponds. After the talks there was a walk to the marsh behind the Grange Hall, which contains Phragmites, which was viewed first hand.
The saltmarsh creek here is bordered and punctuated by large groves of cedar, pitch pine, scrub oak and tupelo trees. As with many saltmarshes in the United States, there are also a large amount of Phragmites, a tall pervasive grass that seems to be everywhere now, from highway medians to open fields. These crowd out native grasses and do harm to any species of insect, bird or animal that rely on the native plants. By outcompeting native vegetation and reducing the viability of salt marsh habitat, this invasive species is having devastating effects on the local ecological system.