phragmites

Phragmites are invasive plants that are common along causeways and wetlands.

A short film will be shown and a discussion held March 10 in Margate on invasive trees and plants. The film, “Twelve Tenacious Invasives,” was made by the Galloway Township Environmental Commission, funded by a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions.

The film explains the importance of avoiding invasive plants and what to look for by highlighting twelve of the most invasive plants in our area.

Sustainable Downbeach and the Margate Recreation Department invited the Galloway Township Environmental Commission to show its film so residents can have a better understanding of invasive species and to help make better selections when choosing plants and trees for their landscaping.

Invasive plants are ones that have been introduced to an area either on purpose or by accident. They can outcompete native species, kill native plants and trees, destroy habitat and throw an entire ecosystem out of balance. Landscapers may have used such plants and trees because they are attractive, inexpensive or easy to maintain. Others may have been accidentally introduced because seeds found their way along with products shipped from other areas. Either way, once invasive plants take root they can quickly spread and become difficult if not impossible to remove. Two very common and recognizable species are bamboo and phragmites.

Phragmites are the tall reeds with the bushy seed heads that you see along causeways leading to the barrier islands and along slightly raised areas of wetlands. They are particularly dangerous because they displace native cattails, cordgrasses, wild rice, beach plum and wild black cherry trees, bayberry bushes, deep rooted clump grasses and other plants that creatures depend on for food and shelter. Because they grow in thick clusters along shorelines they encumber the movements of wetland animals such as otters and muskrats.

Homeowners sometimes plant bamboo to acquire a more tropical feel or to establish a privacy property line. Bamboo grows very fast and sends shoots underground, establishing new plants that can overtake adjacent property, raising legal and land-value repercussions.

Homeowners, landscapers and developers are encouraged to view the film to have a greater understanding of the consequences of invasive plant species. Making better choices when selecting trees, bushes and other plants will support native wildlife and help keep the local ecology closer to balance.

The film showing and panel discussion will take place 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in the Ross School Cafeteria; 101 N. Huntington Ave., Margate. This program is free and open to the public.

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