What phun! Park lovers attempt to bag phrag!

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Photo gallery

Before: Young phragmites poke out their nefarious heads, unaware of what is about to happen.
And now it’s dead!: Volunteer Jessica Jamhoury holds up a plucked invasive reed.
Slash: Volunteer Troy Rose cuts away at the trunk of a bush cleared from the side of Prospect Park Lake.
It takes a village: Yes, a village to manage this invasive vegetation.
The root of all evil: Rolando Penate penetrates the ground to ensure the plants don’t return like some monster from an ’80s horror flick.
Thank you very mulch: Carl Mercer dumps mulch on the ground in an effort to beautify a section of the park that was once covered with phragmites.

They want that phrag to phlee!

Guardians of Prospect Park have gone on the o-phensive against phields of phragmites — an invasive cat tail-like wetland grass that can grow up to 18-pheet high and turn beautiful lakes and the brooks that pheed them into swamps — that they phear could run amuck in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

“Because they’re so hardy, we have to get really down and dirty to remove them,” said Corinne Martin, a spokeswoman with the Prospect Park Alliance.

About a dozen volunteers showed up on Sunday to stem the green tide, whose extensive root systems make it impossible to just rip them out weed by weed. Instead, the plants have to be smothered, which requires volunteers wade into the lake, flatten the reeds, and lay black tarps over the entire area to deprive the roots of sunlight and oxygen.

Even with the tarps in places, the roots of the perennial grass, pronounced “frag-MY-teez,” store energy for up to a year, so Martin said the tarps will remain in place until next August, when the Alliance will attempt to plant new species in their place.

“They have to die at the root,” Martin said. “If we cut them like hair, they just come back.

One volunteer said he spent the better part of the morning up to his waist in lake water, phorcing the plants down and into submission.

“It was challenging, but phun,” said Carl Mercer, of Crown Heights.

Mercer and his phellow volunteers had to don gloves to keep the sharp blades of grass from lacerating their hands, and suited up with phisherman-like waders to get into the lake.

Martin added that the wetland grass has been around Prospect Park Lake for as long as anyone can remember, but have recently begun to block views as they soar to new heights. Volunteers have tried out the black tarp method on smaller patches, and she said that seems to work well.

The efforts of Aug. 16 phocused on the corner of the lake near where East and West drives converge, tackling the area known as the Hammerhead in one day. Another phragging fase-out is planned for Aug. 23.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Scott from Park Slope says:
The stuff grows so well, it's too bad a better use can't be found for it. Cattails, which have been displaced by phragmite, have a hundred uses and serve water fowl as well for nesting areas as phragmite does.
Aug. 20, 2014, 12:32 pm

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