Welcome Surprise: Wild Rice Seems to Deter Phragmites on Harsens Island

Wild rice seems to be keeping invasive phragmites at bay near Harsens Island in Clay Township. Representatives of the Thumb Land Conservancy (TLC) and the Blue Water Indigenous Alliance explored the region recently and found several acres of wild rice along the Middle Channel.

Phragmites are tall, prolific weeds that are wreaking havoc on waterways around the state. They grow in dense patches and drown out native species. According to a press release from the Thumb Land Conservancy, the wild rice crop is expanding on the island and there is little or no invasive species where the rice is growing. The rising lake level seems to be helping, as the wild rice tolerates the deeper water better than the phragmites.

TLC reported that, “For now, there are some good things happening ecologically along the shores of the Saint Clair River delta and this may be part of a long-term pattern for survival of native marsh vegetation like wild-rice.”

Landowners in the area are encouraged to gather and scatter the wild rice seeds along the waters’ edge in an effort to stave off the invasion of phragmites.

Reporting for WGRT -Jennie McClelland