Native vs. Invasive

When attempting to manage and control invasive Phragmites, it is important to first determine if the plants you are managing are the native or invasive strain of Phragmites. Native Phragmites is an important component of a healthy wetland ecosystem. It grows in marshes and unlike the invasive strain, does not typically develop into dense monocultures or degrade habitat quality. There are certain morphological differences that do exist between the native and invasive Phragmites, which can help determine what strain you are dealing with.





Stem Density



Stem Colour at Base (spring/summer)

Red to chestnut


Stem Colour at Base (winter)

Light chestnut to light brown/gray  Tan

Stem Texture

Smooth and shiny Rough and dull

Leaf Colour

Yellow-green Blue-green

Leaf Sheaths

Fall off in fall, easily removed Remain attached, difficult to remove

Ligule Width

> 1 mm (1.0 to 1.7 mm)

< 1 mm (0.4 to 0.9 mm)


Photo Credits

Top left – Wasyl Bakowsky
Top right – Janice Gilbert
Middle left – Janice Gilbert
Middle right – Michigan Sea Grant
Bottom left/right – Kristen Staltonstall