Phragmites line Wilderness Point Road. The invasive reed can grow up to 18 feet tall and is easy to spot, because of its height and distinctive, fluffy seed heads, pictured below.

Over the past 45 years, invasive Phragmites (frag-my-teez) have developed a strong foothold on Fishers Island and have taken over many of our Island’s wetland swamps. The dense common reed crushes native plants, wipes out food sources for fish and wildlife, and leaves no room for ducks, herons and egrets to land.

Wetlands are vulnerable, typically, because of human disturbances, including road grading and ditch digging, road runoff, or other topographical changes.

Phragmities Fluffy Seed Heads

Phragmities fluffy seed heads.

In 2004, with a permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, FIConservancy tackled a 1.5-acre wetland of Phragmites along Clay Point Road. Since Phragmites generally are not salt tolerant, FIConservancy has implemented a mechanical control method that mows and then floods the reeds with salt water.

After 13 years of work that has included mowing, flooding and herbicide treatments, Phragmites still persist. Nevertheless, there is notable progress with the return of wetlands grasses, cattails and a wildlife root layer (rizone) that extends deep into the wetland floor.

If you have questions about Phragmites on your property, please contact Geb Cook at

Read more about Phragmites/Fishers Island Gazette :

Phragmites obliterate the view of Hay Harbor approaching the Hay Harbor Club sailing dock. Phragmites comes from the Greek word “pharma,” meaning fence.