Triglochin maritima


Triglochin maritima in British Columbia

2015-04-26triglochinsTriglochin maritima grows in the marsh of Gooch Creek

Each year I harvest last years stems of Phragmites in my estuary/marsh for mason bee tubes. It is important that this is done in the early spring only before new shoots start to emerge.  I have a theory that this native Phragmites exists in this particular marsh only because the marsh was fenced in the early years to prevent grazing by cattle and sheep. It has been eliminated from most of the other marshes in BC by grazing (personal communication with Robert Prescott-Allen). The reason this marsh was fenced probably was that the plant Triglochin maritima  (Sea arrow grass) grows in the marsh and it is toxic to grazers. ( see below)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Juncaginaceae
Genus: Triglochin
Species: T. maritima
Binomial name
Triglochin maritima L.

The following is a quote from the Canadian Biodiversity Information facility:

General poisoning notes:

Seaside arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima) is a native plant found sporadically across Canada in saline, brackish, or fresh marshes and shores. This plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can release HCN during mastication by animals. Poisoning occurs primarily with ruminants, including cattle and sheep. The concentration of toxic chemicals increases during times of moisture depletion (Majak et al. 1980, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Poulton 1989).


  • Beath, O. A., Draize, J. H., Eppson, H. F. 1933. Arrow grass – chemical and physiological considerations. Univ. Wyo. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 193. 36 pp.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.


Scientific Name:
Triglochin maritima
Vernacular name(s):
seaside arrow-grass
Scientific family name:
Vernacular family name:

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Triglochin maritima

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • taxiphillin
  • triglochinin


  • Majak, W., McDiarmid, R. E., Hall, J. W., Van Ryswyk, A. L. 1980. Seasonal variation in the cyanide potential of arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima). Can. J. Plant Sci., 60: 1235-1241.
  • Poulton, J. E. 1983. Cyanogenic compounds in plants and their toxic effects. Pages 117-157 in Keeler, R. F., Tu, A. T., eds. Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 1. Plant and Fungal toxins. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA. 934 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:


General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Cyanide poisoning from seaside arrow-grass is similar to symptoms discussed under sheep.


  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.


General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Cyanide poisoning of sheep by seaside arrow-grass includes the following symptoms: nervousness, trembling, erratic breathing, convulsions, recumbency, and death. Postmortem findings reveal bright red blood and the smell of bitter almonds in the stomach. Treatment, if started early enough, can be successful. Intravenous injections of an aqueous solution of sodium thiosulfate have proved to be effective (Cooper and Johnson 1984).


  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Vegetation in April at Tower Point

In Mid-April,  native species provide a colourful display on Tower Point next to the ocean.

2015-04-13 camas

Camas on the shore of Tower Point


I was also impressed with the display of a high biodiversity of Bryophytes ( mosses) on the rocky shore just above the spray zone:

In this rocky exposed area on the East side of Tower Point was also located an interesting small tuft grass with rather large heads which I had not seen before:


American Brooklime Veronica beccabunga in Gooch Creek Estuary

In the Metchosin Bioblitz I came across a plant which I had not seen before called American Brooklime, Veronica beccabunga.

This plant grows as an edible herbaceous perennial in a 1 Meter square patch in amongst the grasses in the estuary lagoon .  The area is only flooded  with sea water in the winter at an extreme high tide with a strong east wind blowing. Close up, it has very striking flowers. The plant was in bloom on May 24, 2014.


American brooklime


American Brooklime- [plant form]

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Veronica
Species: V. americana


A new Lease on Life for the Rare Marsh Plant: Phragmites australis subsp. americanus–A note of caution when attempting to control Invasive Species

By Garry Fletcher, Metchosin, British Columbia


The yellow dots show the margin of the Gooch Creek Estuary. The populations of native Phragmites are shown in red. Location: 48deg,22′,11.01″N—123deg 31’52.19″ W.


Introduced species are no doubt one of the most serious challenges for us in the effort to preserve ecological integrity*. Occasionally however we can mete out  a death sentence to an innocent which can have serious consequences.  This post is about one such occurrence with the native marsh/estuary grass Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. subsp. americanus

When we first bought our property on William Head Road, I was intrigued with the variety of ecosystems that could fit into one small 4 hectare piece of land. One such ecosystem was the  seasonally flooded salt marsh at the foot of the property. In that marsh were two populations of a very tall (2-3 metre) marsh reed grass.

In the mid-1980s, I asked one of our members of * MEASC, Robert Prescott-Allen to identify the species for me and he came up with the genus name Phragmites. He indicated that it used to be more common in our coastal estuaries, but it had been destroyed in the early years with cattle trampling and grazing. Now it only occurs in limited  populations in BC and in some populations along the Oregon Coast.

When I made the website MetchosinCoastal , I included a profile on the marsh with images of this plant on the Taylor Beach/Gooch Creek page . phragmiteskalleFast forward twenty years or so until 2009. I received a call from the Invasive Plant EDRR Coordinator | B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations
PO Box 9513, 8-727 Fisgard St, Victoria B.C. CANADA V8W 9C1. She indicated that there were 9 populations of the introduced species Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. in BC and it was their mandate to control all of them. She came out to the farm, took samples and pictures and I sent her pictures of the extent of the grass in the marsh over the last few years indicating it really hadn’t spread that much. She made reference to a sample in the RBC museum which had been collected from our pond in 1992 which was identified as the introduced variety.

She indicated she would be out with a crew in the fall to cut the plants to the ground and spray with the herbicide Glyphosate . (and this being next to a sea-run cutthroat stream!)

On their website, the locations of this plant in BC were identified .  When the call came that they were coming out, I started to do research on the species.  I valued this plant as a great nesting habitat for red-winged blackbirds, and in the summer they get infested with aphids, providing food to wasps, marsh wrens and other birds. In addition, the hollow stems made excellent homes for Mason Bees.


The red stems mentioned on the Oregon ID website are visible in the growing season on our population of reeds. I checked in early Dec.2013 and the red color is still visible.

I referred to a website from the Government of Oregon, which gave a comparison on the physical features of native , (Phragmites australis subsp.americanus) and introduced species samples. It looked very much like the native species to me, with most of the morphological characteristics corresponding. It also indicated that DNA analysis of tissue samples was the only definitive way to determine the genotype of the species.

I also contacted Dr. Adolf Ceska for his opinion, he indicated that the invasive variety probably came into BC in the 1980s. This population in our marsh was well established before the 1980s, and has not progressed very much since then. It is in a seasonal estuary, it floods with fresh
This species reproduces both asexually by underground rootstalks as well as sexually by seeds born on panicles such as this.

This species reproduces both asexually by underground root-stalks as well as sexually by seeds born on panicles such as this.

water with heavy winter rains,  but only gets flooded with a salt water intrusion at high tides driven by a east-wind driven storm surge. (winter only)

phragmitestassleoct13I tend to think that the salt water controls its distribution  somewhat in this particular marsh.  Interestingly,  in recent years cattails have spread  in the pond and they were previously also controlled by salt water. The main invasive in the marsh is reed canary grass.

I told the  Invasive Plant EDRR Coordinator when she showed up with her crew of two to “remove it”  that I would not allow it unless it was proven to be the invasive by DNA analysis.  I heard back from her in the spring 2014.
Phragmites australis subsp. americanus growing in the Gooch Creek marsh

Phragmites australis subsp. americanus growing in the Gooch Creek marsh (in November) of the year

In December of 2013, I was contacted by a wetlands restoration company from Nanaimo, BC about the population, as  they found out from the RBC museum that our population was the native variety. I had not heard this yet so I contacted Dr. Ken Marr at the museum, and he indicated that DNA tests had been done and that it was indeed the native species.


  • He writes “At this very moment I happen to be at UVIC looking at the raw data from the DNA analysis that was mostly completed a year ago.  We have been doing a parallel study of morphology and DNA of 140 or so samples of Phragmites.  Long story short, we have determined from the DNA analysis, that the populations on your land are the native genotype.  In fact, the analysis of the the sample from your land convinced the coordinator of the value of doing the DNA analysis since she had thought the plants on your land were the invasive genotype. Her conclusion may have been based upon my tentative ID of a specimen collected in 1992(?) from your land and that I thought to be the invasive genotype using the characters that have been used to distinguish the native from the invasive. All who have worked on this group acknowledge that for some individual plants, it is difficult to be certain which genotype to which a plant belongs, however DNA markers are viewed to be unambiguous.”
So having regained its “native species” reputation it is protected. The moral of the story is that we must not act impulsively on eliminating introduced species unless we are absolutely certain of the species, and in the case of Phragmites, DNA testing is a minimum requirement before extirpation is promoted.
This has ben published in the BEN ( Botanical Electronic Newsletter)
  • One value added  aspect of the dead hollow stems of Phragmites australis subsp. americanus is that they make great Mason Bee homes. The bottom metre and a half of the larger stems have internode lengths of up to 20 cm, and the inside diameter of the stems is 8 mm.


1.BEN , Botanical Electronic News: References on the identification of native and introduced varieties of Phragmites
2. Native to North America or introduced (or both)?
Information on the Morphological Differences between the Native and Introduced
3. Saltonstall, K., Burdick, D., Miller, S., and Smith B. 2005.  Native and Non-native Phragmites : Challenges in Identification, Research, and Management of the Common Reed,  National Estuarine Research Reserve Technical Report Series 2005. (This publication has a good set of comparative photographs of the two varieties.)
4. Swearingen, J. and K. Saltonstall. 2010. Phragmites Field Guide Distinguishing Native and Exotic Forms of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in the United States. Plant Conservation Alliance, Weeds Gone Wild.
5. from The Encyclopedia of Earth,   Phragmites australis – cryptic invasion of the Common Reed in North America, “Kristin Saltonstall of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has conducted a series of groundbreaking genetic analyses on P. australis. Her research has identified 29 unique genetic types, or haplotypes, of the grass globally. Of these, 13 are native to North America and historical pre-1910 samples indicate a wide distribution of these native haplotypes across the continent. Modern sampling has revealed the widespread presence of a non-native haplotype growing throughout North America. This newcomer’s DNA matches that of a Eurasian haplotype that is the most common P. australis haplotype in the world.”

Kingdom Plantae – plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants
Subkingdom Viridaeplantae – green plants
Infrakingdom Streptophyta – land plants
Division Tracheophyta – vascular plants, tracheophytes
Subdivision Spermatophytina – spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames
Infradivision Angiospermae – flowering plants, angiosperms, plantas com flor, angiosperma, plantes à fleurs, angiospermes, plantes à fruits
Class Magnoliopsida
Superorder Lilianae – monocots, monocotyledons, monocotylédones
Order Poales
Family Poaceae – grasses, graminées
Genus Phragmites Adans. – reed
Ed. Note: Species subspecies americanus is the native species
in North America. Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. – common reed
-introduced species in North America

See posts on the use of Phragmites stems for culturing Mason Bees here:


Sharing our Shoreline

Values and Views
Island Trust Communities
Marine By Nature
The Islands within the Salish Sea have been  shaped by ancient glaciers and modern oceanic forces. Whether you visit the islands seasonally or live here year round, Islanders treasure the marine environment.  The North Pender Local Trust Committee has developed this brochure to introduce you to where sensitive marine habitats exist, how you can recognize them, and what simple steps you can take to ensure our local waters continue to support a vibrant and abundant marine ecosystem.

This PDF has been produced by the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee: Sharing Our shorelines_lowres


Clean Water
Shoreline erosion
Coastal Bluffs and Shoreline beaches
Marine Riparian Vegetation
Intertidal Habitats
Beach-spawning Forage Fish
Eelgrass habitats
Kelp Forests and Rocky Reefs
Marine shorelines as critical fish habitats

Overhanging Vegetation, Invertebrates and Forage fish

Development along shorelines can very easily destroy or alter the natural coastal ecosystems so that the food supply and habitat maintenance of Forage Fish is affected negatively. Ramona de Graff has made several presentations on the importance of Forage Fish and has encouraged local residents to join in the documentation of occurrence of eggs on beaches.
From The Islands Trust “Sharing our Shorelines”
page 6: Shorelines Connect – Linking The Land And The Sea
Marine Riparian Vegetation
What is marine riparian vegetation?
The term “marine riparian” vegetation refers to grasses, shrubs, trees and logs lining marine shorelines. Marine riparian zones link the land and the sea through the exchange of water, sediments and nutrients.
Where is marine riparian vegetation located?
Vegetation above the high water mark, within “backshore” areas such as
private shoreline properties, on bluff tops and slopes form the marine
riparian zone.
Why is marine riparian vegetation important?
Insects captured by the winds as “wind fall” from shoreline vegetation are critical
for young salmon growth. Removing overhanging shoreline vegetation from summer
surf smelt spawning beaches causes embryos to die. Vegetation removal reduces key prey for juvenilesalmon and can reduce surf smelt populations. Fish losses affect the entire food web. Vegetated buffer zones are a wildlife migratory corridor and leaf litter provides nutrients to stimulate marine plankton growth.
Maintaining shoreline vegetation is a net benefit to property owners as a free
“ecosystem service” limiting erosion and stabilizing slope soils. Trees and
shrubs absorb large volumes of rain water and filter pollutants. Vegetation
removal may cause large sediment loads to enter the ocean limiting light for eelgrass growth and clogging fish gills.
See also on this website: Land Plants of Coastal Metchosin.

The Link between Salmon and Forest Ecosystem Productivity

In the past few years, Dr. Tom Reimchen of the University of Victoria and his students have established clear relationships between the health of Coastal forest ecosystems and the ocean through the food webs involving salmon.  Below are links from the publications of Dr. Tom Reimchen to  some of the research articles and papers they have published on this topic:

49.    Reimchen, T. E. 2000a.  Some ecological and evolutionary aspects of bear – salmon interactions in coastal British ColumbiaCan. J. Zool. 78: 448-457.  (.pdf version)

60.    Hocking, M. D. & T. E. Reimchen. 2002. Salmon-derived nitrogen in terrestrial invertebrates from coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. BioMedCentral Ecology 2:4-14. ( ) (.pdf version)

63.    Reimchen, T. E.  D. Mathewson, M. D. Hocking, J. Moran and D. Harris. 2003. Isotopic evidence for enrichment of salmon-derived nutrients in vegetation, soil and  insects in riparian zones in coastal British Columbia. American Fisheries Society Symposium 34: 59-69. (.pdf version)

66.    Mathewson, D.,  M.H. Hocking, and T. E. Reimchen . 2003.  Nitrogen uptake in riparian plant communities across a sharp ecological boundary of salmon density. BioMedCentral Ecology 2003:4. (.pdf version)

70.    Wilkinson, C. E., M. H. Hocking, T. E. Reimchen.  2005.  Uptake of salmon-derived nitrogen by mosses and liverworts in Coastal British Columbia. Oikos 108: 85-98.  (.pdf  version)

76. Hocking, M.D and Reimchen T.E. 2006. Consumption and distribution of salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) nutrients and energy by terrestrial flies Can. J. of Fish. and Aquatic Sciences 63: 2076-2086. (.pdf version)

87. Christie, K. S.,  M.D. Hocking, and T.E. Reimchen. 2008. Tracing salmon-derived nutrients in riparian foodwebs: isotopic evidence in a ground-foraging passerine.  Can. J. Zool. 86: 1317-1323.  (.pdf version).

98.  Hocking, M.D., R. A. Ring and T. E. Reimchen.  2009. The ecology of terrestrial invertebrates on Pacific salmon carcasses. Ecol. Res. (.pdf version)

102. Darimont. C.T.,  Bryan, H.,  Carlson, S.M.,  Hocking, M.D., MacDuffee, M.,  Paquet, P.C.,  Price, M.H.H.,  Reimchen, T. E.,  Reynolds, J.D., & Wilmers, C.C.  2010.  Salmon for terrestrial protected areas. Conservation Letters 3: 379-389. (.pdf version)

TR12. Reimchen, T. E. 2001. Salmon nutrients, nitrogen isotopes and coastal forests. Ecoforestry 16:13-17. (.pdf version)

TR15. Reimchen, T. E.  2004. Marine and terrestrial ecosystem linkages: the major role of salmon and bears to riparian communities.     Botanical Electronic News. BEN#328.

Crumia latifolia- wideleaf crumia moss

Crumia latifolia was one of the six special species recorded on the 2013 Bioblitz. The following was written by Kem Luther for the Bioblitz 2013 website

Team of Bryologists and Kem Luther examining habitat of Crumia sp.

Team of Bryologists and Kem Luther examining habitat of Crumia spp.

” The Bioblitz moss group, (l. to r.) Wynne Miles, Olivia Lee, Steve Joya, and Kem Luther, look at Crumia latifolia. Photo by Garry Fletcher.
Garry Fletcher found this moss on a morning seashore foray along the shores of Parry Bay, at a seepage area above a rock beach. When he brought the moss back to the BioBlitz headquarters for identification, Steve Joya recognized it. The moss team made a detour in the afternoon to see Crumia in situ. “We only have a handful of collections from B.C.,” says Steve, “and these are mainly from islands in the Strait of Georgia area plus one from Limestone Island in Haida Gwaii…. I am not aware of any modern collections from Vancouver Island proper, so the Metchosin record was interesting.
Wilf Schofield, the late doyen of BC mosses, extracted this moss from a motley classification group and moved it to its own genus, naming it after the famous moss biologist, Howard Crum.”
Habitat and ID:

Crumia latifolia normally occurs on seepy shaded calcareous outcrops. The location on the Taylor bluffs is not normally considered to be calcareous.. The seeps originate from a deep glacial till layer.

I returned in the summer and took more pictures of the site and a specimen closeup:
Crumia can be separated from Tortula, a similar species, by the row of swollen, orange colored marginal cells on the leaves.
The following taxonomy is from the ITIS database :
Kingdom Plantae  – plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants
Subkingdom:                Viridaeplantae – green plants
      Infrakingdom Streptophyta  – land plants
         Division Bryophyta  – hornworts, mosses, hépatiques, mousses, non-vascular land plants
            Subdivision Bryophytina  – mosses
               Class Bryopsida
                  Subclass Dicranidae
                     Order Pottiales
                        Family Pottiaceae
                           Genus Crumia Schof. – crumia moss
                              Species Crumia latifolia
(Kindb. in Mac.) Schof. – wideleaf crumia moss


Metchosin Bioblitz 2013: North end of Sector 7, Taylor Beach

Metchosin  BioBlitz Observations by Garry Fletcher and Sandra______on April 27, 2013 on the floodplane and estuary of Gooch Creek, on the 4645 William Head Road Property.



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Gooch Creek and Associated Ecosystems: Issues and Solutions

Ed Note: all mentioning of the invasive species Phragmites australis should now be updated to indicate this species has been identified by DNA sampling as the Native Species Phragmites australis, subspecies americanus.

By Moralea Milne, Student # 9913797,  ER 390, April 12, 2004

Abstract:  Gooch Creek and associated ecosystems provides habitat for two provincially blue-listed species: coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) and red-legged frog (Rana aurora) as well as three spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Gooch Creek and associated ecosystems were mapped using Global Positioning Systems technology. Studies using Streamkeepers, Wetlandkeepers, Urban Salmon Habitat Program and Proper Functioning Condition to assess Gooch Creek have found the cumulative effects of land conversion, land use, livestock usage, invasive species encroachment and roads practices have negatively effected the aquatic health this system. Water quality sampling was conducted every second week at six locations for dissolved oxygen, water temperature, total dissolved solids, pH and turbidity. Chemical analysis of soil and water was also Continue reading