18-Foot Weeds Taking Over Brooklyn Park

Local group asks for volunteers to help chop away pesky, unsightly phragmites

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2014 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you happen to be in the NYC area on Aug. 16 and 23 and aren't afraid to trudge through sediment-filled water, the Prospect Park Alliance has a task: chopping down the weeds—some of them as high as 18 feet—that are proliferating in the park. As part of its "Fight the Phrag" campaign, the Brooklyn alliance is handing out rubber wading outfits, plywood planks, and black plastic to volunteers so they can smother the phragmite reeds, which mess with the park's ecosystem, disrupt wildlife, and ruin views of Brooklyn's only lake, reports DNAInfo.com. "It's hard to get rid of them," an alliance spokeswoman says. "Many native animals do not feed on phragmites, so it makes the reed virtually useless and a nuisance."

The weeds are a "cosmopolitan species," according to NYC Parks—meaning they grow everywhere in the world—but for some reason they've been shooting up like crazy in the Northeast in recent years. Cornell University Cooperative Extension is slightly harsher in its assessment of the wild growth, labeling it as an "invasive species" that "[turns] rich habitats into monocultures devoid of the diversity needed to support a thriving ecosystem." The black tarp will be left over the weeds for a year to deprive them of light, then removed so the alliance can grow new native plants, notes DNAInfo. (Guess we could call in the goats if local manpower isn't enough.)

Prospect Park in Brooklyn is being overrun with pesky phragmites like these.
Prospect Park in Brooklyn is being overrun with pesky phragmites like these.   (Shutterstock)
A man walks past last year's growth of Phragmites, also known as Giant Reed, in this Sunday, May 13, 2007 file photo, at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio.
A man walks past last year's growth of Phragmites, also known as "Giant Reed," in this Sunday, May 13, 2007 file photo, at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio.   (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley, FILE)
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