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weedbusters

Words can help beat

the invaders

Now the scourge of grazed pastures, hay fields, vacant non-crop lands, roadsides, and clear cuts, tansy ragwort was originally introduced as a medicinal plant..

Now the scourge of grazed pastures, hay fields, vacant non-crop lands, roadsides, and clear cuts, tansy ragwort was originally introduced as a medicinal plant..

JEANNE HUGHES

Awareness is a very important factor in controlling the spread of weeds that are not native to British Columbia.

By Jeanne Hughes

“S

pread the word, not the weed” is a common phrase in the community of

weedbusters. Weeds, or invasive plants, are growing in places they wouldn’t usually grow and that have the potential to negatively impact humans, animals, and ecosystems. Invasive plants are able to establish and spread quickly, outcompete native plants, and are difficult to eradicate. Invasives are introduced to British Columbia without their natural predators and pathogens that

would otherwise keep their populations under control in their native geographical range. Invasive plants, in short, are a big problem.

But how did they get here? And how do they continue to spread? Invasive plants are spread through several key pathways of invasion, including horticulture, travel and trade, transportation and utility corridors, seed mixtures, recreation, and critters (including humans). There is a long tradition among gardeners of moving plants from their homeland to new regions. This is not necessarily bad, as many introduced ornamental plants are not invasive, but some of these species have become a real nuisance out in the ‘real’ world.

Some common horticultural introductions include English ivy

(Hedera helix), periwinkle (Vinca

major), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), butterfly bush

(Buddleia davidii), and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). These species now commonly occur in forested and riparian areas, along roadsides, and in agricultural areas, reducing the quality of these habitats for wildlife, livestock, and recreational use. Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobea), is considered a noxious weed under the B.C. Weed Control Act. Now the scourge of grazed pastures, hay fields, vacant non-crop lands, roadsides, and clear cuts, tansy ragwort was originally introduced as a medicinal plant.

Tansy ragwort reproduces mostly from seeds blown in the wind, and a single plant can produce 150,000 seeds that remain viable in the soil for up to 15 years. Disturbance from tilling and grazing causes seeds to germinate and spread, and seeds are transported in soil carried on equipment and vehicles, as well as by people and livestock.

The impacts of tansy ragwort are

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