Of Good Flowers and Bad Flowers, an Invasive Species Hunt

A few pretty blooms have been proliferating in my yard of late, but this year, instead of saying, oh, how lovely, I’ve been saying, “No! No! Don’t eat that!” (to the toddler) and “don’t think you can trick me with your innocent face” (to the daisies). I’ve been tearing a few of them up, because I know now that they are weeds, thanks to this post from Michelle Beks last year.

I’ve reposted this week because they are perennials which makes them a perennial pain in the you-know-what.

Green Thumbs: Learn to Recognise The Weeds Among Us

Recently the Pemberton Farmer’s Institute held an Invasive Weed Species information session at the Helmer Farm.

What are invasive weeds you may ask? How can you tell the difference? Plants are considered invasive if they have been introduced into an environment where they did not evolve. As a result, they usually have no natural enemies to limit their reproduction and spread.  Some invasive plants can produce changes to vegetation, waterways and farmland that may take years to get under control or eradicate.

The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council has a web site where you can identify and learn about what may be lurking in your back-yard.

After a short walking tour of the farm to see some of these weeds in their natural habitat, we arrived back at the barn for a discussion. Kristina Swerhun of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council presided over a Q&A session.

We all came to the conclusion that there are a top 5 most wanted. They are, as follows, in no particular order:

Daisy (AKA Scentless Chamomile or Oxeye Daisy),Oxeye daisy-oliv

  • Thistle (AKA Canada Thistle or Bull Thistle),

English: Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Ottaw...

  • Burdock,

Knapweed (Centaurea montana)

  • Orange Hawkweed, and

Orange Hawkweed

  • Knapweed (AKA Difuse Knapweed or Spotted Knapweed)

Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)

Also ranking right up there, as it effects our water ways, is Yellow Iris. Some of these weeds, such as Yellow Iris and Scentless Chamomile are listed under the Weed Control Act and you must not let them spread. If a complaint is filed against you, you could be visited by a Weed Inspector and ticketed. If you chose to do nothing to control or eradicate your weeds then they will do it for you and you will be sent the bill.

You may be thinking, ‘What’s wrong with them? It’s just a little plant.’ In the case of Thistles or Daisy,  if left to grow in a hay field, they will make the hay useless for feed and Yellow Iris is poisonous should your cattle or horses eat them.

They are not natural to our area and we need to do what we can to control their spread.

There are various ways to rid yourself of these pests if you find them in your yard or out and about in the valley. The best thing to do is pull them out, put the whole plant or plants in a plastic bag and dispose of them in the garbage. Some like Thistle or Yellow Iris are a little difficult to just yank out. Cutting the flowers before they go to seed and disposing of them in a plastic bag works quite well to slow down the spread.

So, armed with a little knowledge and being aware of the dangers these invasive species pose to our environment go forth and fight the good fight.

Clear the land of these aliens living among us and give our natural weeds a fighting chance!

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