Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-qlrfm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T15:23:57.707Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A Tale of Three Lineages: Expansion of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in the U.S. Southwest and Gulf Coast

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Laura A. Meyerson*
University of Rhode Island, Department of Natural Resources Science, 1 Greenhouse Road, Kingston, RI 02881
Adam M. Lambert
Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Kristin Saltonstall
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Panamá, Republic of Panamá
Corresponding author's E-mail:


The common reed invasion in North America has spanned two centuries and is still ongoing. This expansion comprises two main forms: an introduced Eurasian lineage (identified here as “Introduced Phragmites”) and a Gulf Coast lineage of unknown origin (identified here as “Gulf Coast Phragmites”). Both lineages are spreading beyond their current ranges and are colonizing Southwestern and Gulf Coast ecosystems where they have not previously existed. As a result, the native North American lineage of common reed (hereafter “native Phragmites”) has declined in many places. The recent invasion of the U.S. Southwest by Introduced and Gulf Coast Phragmites lineages has made this the only region in the world colonized by all three lineages. Along the central Gulf Coast where Gulf Coast Phragmites remains the dominant form, Introduced Phragmites has also recently invaded the Mississippi River delta. The consequences of these new invasions are uncertain, but a rapid response is needed to protect native species and ecosystems and reduce future control costs.

Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Literature Cited

Brisson, J., de Blois, S., and Lavoie, C. 2010. Roadside as invasion pathway for common reed (Phragmites australis). Invasive Plant Sci. Manag 3:506514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chambers, R. M., Meyerson, L. A., and Saltonstall, K. 1999. Expansion of Phragmites australis into tidal wetlands of North America. Aquat. Bot 64:261273.Google Scholar
Hansen, R. M. 1978. Shasta ground sloth food habits, Rampart Cave, Arizona. Paleobiology 4:302319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haslam, S. M. 1972. Phragmites communis Trin. (Arundo Phragmites L.,? Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel). J. Ecol 60:585610.Google Scholar
Howard, R. J., Travis, S. E., and Stiles, B. A. 2007. Rapid growth of a Eurasian haplotype of Phragmites australis in a restored brackish marsh in Louisiana, USA. Biol. Invasions 10:369379.Google Scholar
Kiviat, E. and Hamilton, E. 2001. Phragmites use by native North Americans. Aquat. Bot 69:341357.Google Scholar
Kulmatiski, A., Beard, K. H., Meyerson, L. A., Gibson, J. C., and Mock, K. E. 2011. Reconstruction of a cryptic invasion of Phragmites australis reveals potential for native haplotype extinction. Western North American Naturalist. In press.Google Scholar
McCormick, M. K., Kettenring, K. M., Baron, H. M., and Whigham, D. F. 2009. Extent and reproductive mechanisms of Phragmites australis spread in brackish wetlands in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland (USA). Wetlands 30:6774.Google Scholar
Meyerson, L. A., Chambers, R. M., and Vogt, K. A. 1999. The effects of Phragmites removal on nutrient pools in a freshwater tidal marsh ecosystem. Biol. Invasions 1:129136.Google Scholar
Meyerson, L. A., Saltonstall, K., and Chambers, R. M. 2009a. Phragmites australis in eastern North America: a historical and ecological perspective. Pages 5782. In Silliman, B. R., Bertness, M. D., and Strong, D. eds. Human Impacts on Salt Marshes: A Global Perspective. Berkeley University of California Press.Google Scholar
Meyerson, L. A., Saltonstall, K., Windham, L., Kiviat, E., and Findlay, S. 2000. A comparison of Phragmites australis in freshwater and brackish marsh environments in North America. Wetl. Ecol. Manag 8:89103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meyerson, L. A., Viola, D., and Brown, R. 2009b. Hybridization of invasive Phragmites australis with a native subspecies in North America. Biol. Invasions. DOI 10.1007/s10530-009-9434-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meyerson, L. A. 2010. Databases. In Simberloff, D. and Rejmanek, M. eds. Encyclopedia of Invasive Species. Berkeley University of California Press. In press.Google Scholar
[NISC] National Invasive Species Council 2001. National Invasive Species Management Plan. Scholar
[NISC] National Invasive Species Council 2003. General Guidelines for the Establishment and Evaluation of Invasive Species Early Detection and Rapid Response Systems. Version 1. Washington, DC National Invasive Species Council. 16 p.Google Scholar
Patten, D., Rouse, L., and Stromberg, J. 2008. Isolated wetlands in the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts, USA: potential response of vegetation to groundwater withdrawal. Environ. Manag 41:398413.Google Scholar
Pellegrin, D. and Hauber, D. P. 1999. Isozyme variation among populations of the clonal species, Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel. Aquat. Bot 63:241259.Google Scholar
Pinkava, D. J. 1979. Vegetación and flora of the Bolsón of Cuatro Cienegas region, Coahuila, México: i. Boletin de la Sociedad Botánica de México 38:3573.Google Scholar
Plants database 2010., Accessed April 2010.Google Scholar
Saltonstall, K. 2002. Cryptic invasion of a non-native genotype of the common reed, Phragmites australis, into North America. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S, A 99:24452449.Google Scholar
Saltonstall, K. 2003a. Genetic variation among North American populations of Phragmites australis: implications for management. Estuaries 26:445452.Google Scholar
Saltonstall, K. 2003b. Microsatellite variation within and among North American lineages of Phragmites australis . Mol. Ecol 12:16891702.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Saltonstall, K. 2003c. A rapid method for identifying the origin of North American Phragmites populations using RFLP analysis. Wetlands 23:10431047.Google Scholar
Saltonstall, K., Peterson, P. M., and Soreng, R. 2004. Recognition of Phragmites australis subsp. americanus (Poaceae: Arundinaceae) in North America: evidence from morphological and genetic analyses. SIDA 21:683692.Google Scholar
Saltonstall, K., Lambert, A., and Meyerson, L. A. 2010. Genetics and reproduction of common (Phragmites australis) and giant reed (Arundo donax). Invasive Plant Sci. Manag 3:495505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stanton, L. E. 2005. The establishment, expansion and ecosystem effects of Phragmites australis, an invasive species in coastal Louisiana. Ph.D dissertation. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University. 182 p.Google Scholar
Swearingen, J. and Saltonstall, K. 2010. Phragmites Field Guide: Distinguishing Native and Exotic Forms of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in the United States. Plant Conservation Alliance, Weeds Gone Wild. Scholar
Tiner, R. W., Huber, I. J., Nuerminger, T., and Mandeville, A. L. 2003. An Inventory of Coastal Wetlands, Potential Restoration Sites, Wetland Buffers, and Hardened Shorelines for the Narragansett Bay Estuary. Hadley, MA U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region. in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of Rhode Island, and the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. National Wetlands Inventory Cooperative Interagency Report. 40 p. plus appendices.Google Scholar
Washington State Department of Ecology 2010. Accessed April 5, 2010).Google Scholar
White, D. A., Hauber, D. P., and Hood, C. S. 2004. Clonal differences in Phragmites australis from the Mississippi River delta. Southeast. Nat 3:531544.Google Scholar