Hogweed hackers seek volunteers

There's more than one invasive species taking over in Oceanside woods

The Friends of French Creek Conservation Society and Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers are chopping the noxious, invasive giant hogweed from the banks of French Creek again this season.

Crews have already been out three times this spring to tackle infestations on properties near Imperial Drive, the railway trestle and Hof Waldeck farm, reports team leader Michael Jessen.

An average of seven volunteers have taken part in each “dig” and they are looking for more volunteers for several more days out by the end of June when the weed becomes dormant.

Giant hogweed was probably brought to the French Creek watercourse 60 years ago. Starting in the Winchester Road area it has since spread to much of the creek and other areas, including Romney Creek near Parksville, Milner Gardens and recently at Trillium Lodge.

The weed and its sap can cause blistering and scarring on the skin of people who come in contact with it. It can be safely dug up as long as workers wear clothing that covers all skin and eyes.

A member of the carrot and parsley family, hogweed reaches up to five metres tall with a hollow, ridged, central stem two to six centimetres in diameter, with purple or red blotches and coarse hairs. Its leaves are broad and unevenly lobed and can grow to one metre across.

Ministry of Forests and Range’s management strategy for dealing with hogweed can be found at frenchcreekhogweed.ca.

For details or assistance, contact Jessen at 250-752-4579 or mjessen@telus.net.