Project: Phragmites Control at Humber College

Lynn Short from Humber College in Toronto gives us the scoop on Phragmites control on campus.

What is the geographic scope of the project?

Phragmites has just begun to invade small areas around the campus.  There are two ponds where the plant is beginning to grow in a localized area on the shore.  There are also two low, wet areas beside parking lots that are colonized by the plant.

Type of project?

  • Education/outreach
  • Direct management (i.e. spraying, burning)

Why is Phragmites and issue in your area?

Phragmites grows in the roadside ditches adjacent to the College. The seeds are spreading onto the campus. We wish to model good practices for sustainable horticulture and control of invasive species. The land adjacent to the College is located on the West Branch of the Humber River which is an important habitat corridor for wildlife.

What is your organization’s approach to invasive Phragmites management?

We have had volunteers come out to remove invasive species on our location. The soil in the area is heavy clay and the use of chemical controls is not acceptable on College property. Consequently, volunteers have been cutting the plant down as close to the soil surface as possible, as often as we have volunteers present on the property.

Who are your partners in this effort?

This project is just getting started and we have had two volunteer organizations cutting the plant down, last fall and this spring.


What are the goals and objectives for the project?

We would like to control the plant and prevent it fro spreading any further into our ponds and ditches.

What type of land does your project target?

The plant is colonizing land at the edge of two man-made ponds and in the ditches adjacent to two of the parking lots.

Do you monitor the areas that you manage? If so, what does that entail?

Monitoring is done by staff surveying the areas where the plant is know to grow and also watching susceptible areas for the appearance of the plant in the hopes of controlling it before it becomes established.

What is the status of the project and are you seeing results?

It is too soon to see results. A more concentrated, organized approach is required.

Can you share information about challenges and lessons learned (both about what worked and what did not work)?

Since the plant is established in heavy clay, it is very difficult to remove the stalks. If cut too high above the soil surface, the stalks send out branching shoots. It is better to cut the plant just before the flowers begin to mature. This ensures that it will not re-bloom during the growing season.

One of our other problems is lack of staff and funding to focus on controlling this particular plant. The Humber Arboretum, adjacent to Humber College, where the Phragmites is located is a large tract of land, about 250 acres.

Please provide any other information here.

Tissue samples were sent to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and were DNA tested. The results confirmed that the specimens that are growing on our property are the exotic variety.

For more information contact:

Lynn Short
LX 115
205 Humber College Blvd.
Toronto, Ontario M9W 5L7

[email protected]