Archive for the 'Arundo Donax' Category

TPW TV — Razing Cane

Friday, July 7th, 2017
Arrundo Donax is ready for its close-up.

Arrundo Donax is ready for its close-up.

This is Passport to Texas

Mike Eckert lives just outside of Fredericksburg. He’s battling with an invasive plant called Giant Reed, or Arrundo Donax that’s taking over a creek on his property.

As best as I understand, it’s doesn’t spread from seeds. It spreads from pieces washing out and lodging somewhere, and then starting to grow again.

Next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series watch a segment called Razing Cane that explores the impact of this invader that threatens nearly every river system in Texas.

We’re almost to the Pedernales. Another half mile and you’ll hit the Pedernales down here. And they’ve got this stuff in the Pedernales, too. And it’s spreading pretty quick. And it’s all over. Everywhere you go, it’s there. It’s going to take a massive effort to wipe it out. And I’m not sure they’ll ever wipe it out.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Aquatic invasive species specialist, Monica McGarrity and a team of biologists is fighting back. They’re using an herbicide that will hopefully kill this introduced invasive weed.

Arrundo is a grass, but it’s a grass on steroids. It grows 30 to 40 feet tall. Huge, dense canes. So dense that wildlife can’t even get through it. And so this is a really aggressive plant, and it’s important to take equally aggressive action to manage it.

View the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV segment Razing Cane next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Managing Giant Reed in the Texas Hill Country

Friday, May 20th, 2016
Arundo, photo courtesy, kathelma

Arundo, photo courtesy, kathelma

This is Passport to Texas

Arundo Donax—or giant reed—may not be public enemy number one, but this non-native grass, which covers an estimated half million acres in Texas, shows up on Parks and Wildlife’s most (un)wanted list.

This is an invasive plant—especially when it gets into areas along rivers and creeks.

Monica McGarrity studies aquatic invasives for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and says thanks to recent increased legislative funding, the agency can expand management efforts of arundo to the Hill Country.

One of the reasons why we’re focusing on the hill country is because these are some of the headwaters areas, they’re really important, for some of our native fishes that are imperiled; including our state fish—the Guadalupe bass. And when it gets into these narrow streams and creeks and headwaters, it can just have some devastating impacts.

Such as bank failure, decreased water quality, and habitat disruption. McGarrity says the plan includes using EPA approved herbicides and revegetating banks with native species.

This project seeks to manage the arundo to minimize impacts on these imperiled fishes, and improve habitat quality and diversity and support these conservation initiatives.

Learn more about Arundo donax at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Landowners Key to Controlling Giant Reed

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
arundo donax

Arundo donax, Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA website

This is Passport to Texas

Arundo donax, or giant reed, isn’t all bad. In some parts of the world it’s used as a biofuel, and even to make reeds for woodwinds. In Texas, where it covers a half million acres of land, it’s a pest. This non-native cane doesn’t provide food or nesting habitats for wildlife – but outcompetes native plants that do. Plus it disturbs aquatic ecosystems along riparian areas where it grows. TPW works with landowners in affected areas to manage the species.

These are private waters and landowners are able to come in and tell us what problems they’re seeing with the arundo, how it’s affecting them. They’re out there to monitor over time—let us know when they see native plants coming back, or if they see any re-sprouting popping up.

Monica McGarrity, with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says strategies used to manage the pest include: Pull. Kill. Plant. Pull up young plants, use EPA approved herbicides to kill mature plants, and repopulate with native vegetation. It’s worked in the Nueces River Basin.

So we’ve been working in the Nueces River Basin with the NRA for a number of years to manage arundo. And it’s been rather effective. There’s a huge partnership that includes landowners and a variety of techniques to manage the arundo and to replant some native plants. And now we’re able to expand this into the Pedernales Basin and into the Blanco River as well.

Monica McGarrity returns to talk about that tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Best Management of Giant Reed

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
arundo donax

Spraying EPA approved herbicide on Arundo donax. Image courtesy of

This is Passport to Texas

Arundo Donax, or giant reed, is an invasive plant found along rivers and creeks. While it spreads through underground rhizomes, it can also multiply when cane fragments travel downstream.

You cut it, you mow it, you get fragments into the creek—each fragment can create a new plant.

This is why mowing or otherwise breaking up the cane is ill-advised. Monica McGarrity who studies aquatic invasive for TPW, says of the methods used to manage giant reed, herbicides are most effective.

We do use herbicides that are labeled for aquatic use. We take extreme care to minimize overspray, and any damage to non-target plant; we just be really selective when we hit the Arundo. And then, that allows the canes to die and remain in place. So, we’re not destabilizing the entire riparian area.

When the canes die, they provide protection for emerging native plants.

So, when you have young, native plants that start to come up, then deer and things are going to come out and munch on them. So these canes kind of create a nursery area to allow them to come back. And so that’s really important. Planting the natives alone [without first using herbicides], they haven’t evolved to compete with this huge, vigorous invader.

Landowners are vital to managing this invasive plant. Find out why on tomorrow’s show.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

How NOT to Manage Giant Reed

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
Giant Reed

If corn and bamboo had a baby, it would be Arundo donax, a.k.a. Giant Reed.

This is Passport to Texas

How would you deal with grass that’s gotten out of hand? Mow it? That works for turf grass, but not the invasive non-native grass called Arundo Donax, or giant reed.

It’s very tall—grows up to about 30 feet.

Not only is mowing nearly impossible, but using a machete or anything that breaks this gargantuan grass into pieces is ill-advised, says Monica McGarrity, who studies aquatic invasive for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The way that this plant reproduces is by the canes—especially when they’re cut—by folks mowing or by nutria eating them. They spread downstream and they re-root and create new plants. It does spread by its rhizomes, but it can travel long distances if you cut it, mow it, and fragments get into the creek. Each fragment can create a new plant.

Its invasive nature is evident along rivers and streams; it outcompetes native plants and disrupts habitat. In addition, it’s a thirsty plant – not good for drought-prone Texas.

It uses a lot of water. It’s been shown to reduce flows, and it can cause a lot of erosion, and that can reduce the water quality in the stream. So, lots of ways that it can have a big impact on the system.

So what is the best way to manage giant reed? Monica McGarrity has the answer on tomorrow’s show.

Learn more about giant reed at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.