Phragmites–December’s “Species of the Month”

December 3, 2018

Mighty and Invasive.
Tall and so thick you want to bushwhack through it. Impressive.

However, this extremely invasive plant infests the banks of our Sand Creek. Working to keep the Greenway healthy, our city partners work hard to contain and suppress its growth. It is Phragmites (pronounced frag-might-ees) or Phragmites australis, a common reed that is found around the world.

It is included on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Watch List for Noxious Weeds and it may have been introduced to North America as early as the late 1700s from the Middle East and spread across the continent by the 20th century. Growing 6 to 15 feet tall, it can be found in marsh areas and riparian areas year-round and provides cover for bird species like the red-winged blackbird.  (Hear it yourself from our Greenway!)

The speed of its growth and the dense nature of its stands are the problem for places by Sand Creek, for it chokes out native plants, and significantly reduces the biodiversity of our creekbank. Once established, infestations can become a fire hazard, which, in our dry climate, can be a serious concern.

Vicki Vargas-Madrid and Monique Fair (far left and left) of Denver Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Operations Program greet our Sand Creek volunteers during work day near Smith Road trailhead and talk about the invasive species, Phragmites



Our partners with Denver Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Operations Program – and our other two cities—Aurora and Commerce City–are working hard to control and eradicate this species from Sand Creek Greenway. A large stand exists just south and east of our Smith Road Trailhead area, to the east of the confluence of Sand Creek and Westerly Creek. Every effort to remove Phragmites makes our Greenway and our Sand Creek healthier.

Take Action!

Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership

About the Greenway

The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is a jewel in the necklace of trails that has made Denver a national model for linked trail systems.

This 14-mile public greenway connects the High Line Canal in Aurora, Colorado with the South Platte River Greenway in Commerce City. Along the way, it passes through northeast Denver and the new Stapleton community.

The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is open every day from dawn until dusk. Runners, walkers, nature viewers, horseback riders, and leashed dogs are encouraged to enjoy the trail. We invite you to become acquainted with our wilderness in the city.


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