NDA Adds Phragmites To Noxious Weed List Under Temporary Order

NDA Adds Phragmites To Noxious Weed List Under Temporary Order

April 18, 2008 

On Tuesday the Nebraska Department of Agriculture declared the non-native phragmites an official noxious weed. The statewide designation, which takes effect immediately, is an expansion of a temporary designation issued last year for phragmites within the Republican River basin.

Greg Ibach, Nebraska director of agriculture, said the statewide designation is necessary to help county weed control officials work with landowners to address areas of high infestation and to prevent further spread of this invasive species. Phragmites is primarily found along Nebraska's rivers, streams, floodplains and lakeshores.

"In order to be good stewards of the land, we need to protect our natural resources from non-native plants that have no value and that will, absent control measures, continue to invade our river systems," Ibach said. "The designation is an important tool for weed control officials who are working on projects to control phragmites."

Ibach has the authority to issue temporary designations under the Noxious Weed Control Act. The temporary designation will expire in February 2009. Ibach said he anticipates moving ahead with the formal process to add phragmites to the permanent noxious weed list before then.

According to Mitch Coffin, NDA Noxious Weed Program manager, phragmites can quickly form a monoculture and displace native riparian plants, grasses and forbs. Once phragmites matures, it sends out rhizomes searching for water; these rhizomes can stretch as much as 30 feet in search of water. Phragmites can grow to 20 feet tall.

Other officially designated noxious weeds in Nebraska include: Saltcedar, Canada thistle, leafy spurge, musk thistle, plumeless thistle, purple loosestrife and spotted and diffuse knapweeds.

For more information about the phragmites designation contact your county weed control superintendent. Questions also may be directed to Coffin at (402) 471-6844.