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Thursday, August 23, 2007


Phragmites are coming! Phragmites are coming! Well, actually, they are already here. The tall, invasive grass called Common Reed, Phragmites australis, is now growing in the bioswale in front of the Cambridge Water Department and in several places on the banks of Fresh Pond.

“Phrags” spread rapidly by underground rhizomes, growing so densely and tall that cattails and other wetland plants are crowded and shaded out. The loss of plant diversity means that insects, birds, and other animals also lose their homes.

We are not currently prepared to deal with “phrags” at Fresh Pond Reservation, but we do have a chance to eradicate them where they are marching forth in the nearby, smaller, Danehy Park wetland.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2007, volunteers with garden pruners will cut the tops off the plants at Danehy Park; then professionals will drip a small amount of a wetland-approved herbicide (glyphosate) into each hollow stem. The herbicide will travel down to the roots and kill the plants without harming any other plants or animals This work will be done with the support of the Danehy Park management and under a permit issued by the Cambridge Conservation Commission.

Anyone 18 years or older who can use garden pruners and doesn’t mind getting muddy shoes is welcome to participate! You can sign up for one of two shifts: 1:00 to 2:45 pm or 3:00 to 4:45 pm. Volunteers will have no contact with the herbicide and will not need to wear protective clothing, although long pants and boots or old shoes are recommended. Pruners, gloves, and refreshments will be provided. . Park at the Danehy parking lot at 99 Sherman Street, Cambridge.

Experience gained from this project may provide the impetus for other phragmites eradication programs in the city, including one at Fresh Pond Reservation.

Date: Wednesday, September 19
Rain Date: Wednesday, September 27
Times: 1:00 to 2:45 pm and 3:00 to 4:45 pm
Place: Danehy Park, 99 Sherman Street (parking lot address), Cambridge

To volunteer and for details, e-mail Elizabeth Wylde at

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