Pretty plant in Holley is a pest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – This plant, Phragmites australis, grows by the Holley Elementary School. It is an invasive plant that can take over where cattails once grew.

HOLLEY – The photo of a plant by the Holley Elementary School sure looked pretty. We had it on the Orleans Hub on Tuesday.

I wasn’t positive what the plant was. I guessed it was cattails, but I wasn’t certain. Well, it’s not cattails.

Dennis Kirby, manager of the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District, did some research and identified the plant as Phragmites australis. This is an invasive plant that is causing a lot of trouble in coastal wetlands.

Locally, it pops up in ditches and wet areas.

“You see it around in a lot of places,” he said.

The plant crowds out cattails and takes over a spot. Cattails provide a good home for muskrats and some waterfowl. But Phragmites australis grows close together and isn’t a good habitat for wildlife, Kirby said.

“This is a very pretty plant, but actually a very invasive one that tends to take over and crowd out where the cattails previously grew,” Kirby said.