Due to the wet and cool spring, the invasive, non-native plant species hogweed has thrived in some local locations, hindering local society members and Town of Qualicum Beach staff’s efforts to eradicate it.
Hogweed Team Leader Micheal Jessen, with the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society (FFCCS), said this year’s hogweed digs seemed to be going well until the team arrived at the airport lands.
“We were struck with a huge flourish of whole new plants,” he said, “just a jungle of them.”
Jessen said they have been going to the location for three years to control it, but they had to retrace their steps and tackle old territory before finally making some progress.
“It looks like three steps forward and two steps back,” he said. “It’s a process we go through and it can be quite discouraging at times.”
Friends of French Creek were joined by the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers as well as Qualicum Beach Town staff during their airport dig. FFCCS have now finished their digs for the season.
French Creek is considered the epicenter of hogweed invasion on southeastern Vancouver Island, and likely has the oldest population in Western Canada, according to a website put together by Jeff Hallworth, coastal invasive plant specialist with the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range.
Jessen said although the French Creek area still has a serious hogweed problem, the group has managed to eradicate it at the green bridge in French Creek and at a few private properties. In order to keep the weed under control however, Jessen said they need assistance from local property owners and the big, land-owning companies.
Although FFCCS’ hogweed digging season has ended, those on private property who are unable to battle the weed can call Jessen next season and he’ll try and get some volunteers out to help. Call him at 250-752-4579.
• Giant hogweed sap contains chemicals that can cause severe dermatitis, including welts, rashes and blistering followed by pigmented scarring.
• Giant hogweed plants can grow up to 5 metres tall and produce up to 120,000 seeds.
• If you are exposed to giant hogweed sap, wash affected skin as soon as possible. Rinse eyes immediately. If you are unsure if all plant sap is removed, keep the area of skin covered (no sunlight) until you wash thoroughly.
• Wash all clothing and equipment thoroughly with soap and water after contact with giant hogweed. Be careful not to redistribute plant sap when washing.
For details on giant hogweeed visit http://frenchcreekhogweed.ca.