The Big Six

 

The Township has identified these plants as the top six invasive species that require control:

  • Japanese Knotweed – Fallopia japonica, syn. Polygonum cuspidatum, Reynoutria japonica
  • Giant Hogweed – Heracleum mantegazzianum
  • English Ivy – Hedera helix
  • Purple Loosestrife – Lythrum salicaria L.
  • Himalayan Balsam – Impatiens glandulifera
  • Tansy Ragwort – Senecio jacobeae

Japanese KnotweedJapanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is an aggressive plant that has the ability to destabilize building foundations and destroy sewage and water main infrastructure with its vigorous root growth. Knotweed can colonize large areas with just a small portion, grow up to three metres (10 feet) high in a single growing season, and can out-compete native vegetation. In addition, Japanese Knotweed is listed as a provincial-wide Noxious Weed under BC’s Weed Control Act  and Weed Control Regulation .

Controlling Japanese Knotweed requires a long-term commitment. The only control method considered widely effective is the application of herbicide, such as products that contain glyphosate (ex. Round Up). This method involves spraying Japanese Knotweed several times until the roots are killed. Afterward, the dead stalks can be placed in a biodegradable bag and set out with your Green Cart or bagged and disposed of in the garbage.

 Note: glyphosate cannot be used within 1 metre of a stream, as listed on the product label’s restrictions. In this case, removing the plant by digging out the roots and runners is the only viable option at this time. However, this often involves excavating the soil under and around the plant to a minimum depth of 2 metres and up to 7 metres around. Appropriate disposal of the excavated soil is important and typically involves extremely deep burial (over 5 metres deep) and often must be done on-site; therefore, this method is not commonly used due to challenges and expense involved.

Mechanical methods such as mowing and digging generally are not recommended because they can further spread portions of the plant and stimulate root growth. Cutting may be effective for small areas only if repeated frequently (i.e. once a month) during the growing season, repeating for several years until the roots are dead.

If you find Knotweed on your property, do not compost it in your backyard as it could spread. Leave the stems to dry out away from soil, then place in a compostable bag in your Green Cart to be commercially composted. Commercial composters reach temperatures that can destroy knotweed roots and seeds, while backyard composters do not. If you do not want to remove the weed yourself, contact Langley Environmental Partners Society , which may remove the weed for you for a fee and/or give you other options to consider. 

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed poses a health and safety concern. Sap from this plant can cause sensitivity to light when it comes in contact with exposed skin, resulting in burns and blisters. As a result, it is listed as a provincial-wide Noxious Weed under BC’s Weed Control Act  and Weed Control Regulation . Thankfully, Giant Hogweed is believed to have a low establishment in the Township of Langley.

Herbicides, such as products that contain glyphosate or triclopyr, are an effective option to control Hogweed, although they can’t be used within 1 metre of a stream (always read the product label’s restrictions). Hogweed also responds well to manual removal, but it is crucial that you wear protective clothing , gloves and eye protection  while doing so. Use a sharpened shovel to cut into the soil and through the tap root, about 10 to 20 centimetres into the ground. The cut portion of the plant can be pulled out and either removed or left to dry.

Do not try to compost this plant in your backyard and do not put it in your Green Cart, either. All parts of the plant should be placed in heavy duty plastic bags, sealed, and disposed of in the garbage to ensure the safety of all those who may handle it.

It is not advisable to remove the weed without proper training and equipment. If you do not want to remove the weed yourself, contact Langley Environmental Partners Society, which may remove the weed for you for a fee and/or give you other options to consider.

English Ivy

English IvyEnglish Ivy is a climbing vine that can spread over the ground like a blanket, choking out vegetation, and climbing trees and shrubs. Ivy can be a safety concern when its weight causes trees and branches to break, particularly during windstorms, with the potential to cause injury to people and livestock and damage property. Thankfully, it can be easily controlled through proper maintenance and disposal.

Hand pulling, while labour intensive, is the best method to remove ivy. It allows for selective removal, leaving desirable vegetation unharmed. Remove ivy by pulling the vine from the ground, taking care to remove as much of the root as possible. Repeated maintenance is required to ensure complete removal. To avoid tree breakage, cut the vines at the base of the tree. The cut stems will eventually decay and fall off by themselves.

Do not try to compost this plant; all parts of the plant can produce a new plant and it will spread from your backyard composter. If you have a small quantity, place the ivy plant in a biodegradable bag and send it to a commercial composter via your Green Cart.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

A pretty plant with ugly consequences, Purple Loosestrife poses a major threat to wetland habitats. Purple Loosestrife reproduces so prolifically: one mature plant has the capability of dispersing up to 2.7 million seeds! Wetlands are a vital component to our environment; when Purple Loosestrife invades a wetland, biodiversity becomes limited. Purple Loosestrife can also clog drainage canals, causing flow restrictions and impacting proper drainage. As a result, it is listed as a provincial-wide Noxious Weed under BC’s Weed Control Act  and Weed Control Regulation . Thankfully this invasive plant has a low establishment in the Township of Langley.

Purple Loosestrife can be pulled out by hand or dug out. Cutting seed heads can help control its spread by preventing this year’s seeds from producing new plants. It is not advisable to use herbicides to control Purple Loosestrife since it grows in wet areas.

If you remove Purple Loosestrife, do not try to compost it in your backyard composter. Loosestrife can be placed in a biodegradable bag, sealed, and disposed of in your Green Cart.

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan BalsamHimalayan Balsam grows quickly and spreads easily, often suffocating native vegetation. Spring-loaded seed pods burst open when brushed against, sending seeds up to 7 metres away! (See a video of this happening here ).

The good news is its seeds are viable for only two years, making it easy to control. The entire plant can be easily pulled from the ground, roots and all. Large infestations can be controlled using a string weed whacker to shred the balsam when the plant begins flowering (but before it goes to seed in late summer). Repeat the process two or three times more after the initial cutting to ensure the seed bed in the soil is exhausted. It is not advisable to use herbicide as a control method since the plants often grow in/near streams and wetlands.

Once removed, Himalayan Balsam should be cleared from the site because each node can produce roots, allowing the plant to flower again. Do not compost green plants in your backyard composter as it can spread. Allow to dry out completely first, or bag and send to a commercial composter via your Green Cart

Tansy Ragwort

Tansy RagwortTansy Ragwort poses a health concern to humans and animals. If digested, toxic chemicals, called alkaloids, in Ragwort can cause liver damage to livestock and horses. These toxins can be transferred to humans through the consumption of meat and dairy products. As well, honey made by bees that forage in areas with high densities of Tansy Ragwort may also contain trace amounts of toxin. For this reason it is listed as a provincial-wide Noxious Weed under BC’s Weed Control Act  and Weed Control Regulation .

Livestock should never have access to fields infested with more than 10 percent Tansy Ragwort. Put up fences to block livestock from the weed. Small invasions of Tansy Ragwort can be controlled by hand pulling, ensuring all the root is removed (easier when the soil is damp). Large infestations may be managed through regular mowing before the plant flowers, or heavy cultivation (frequent tilling of the soil such that plant may not become established, and eventually is eliminated).

Tansy Ragwort can be placed in the compost if it has not gone to seed. If plants are removed after they have gone to seed, they should be bagged and placed in your Green Cart or garbage. Do not burn Tansy Ragwort for control or waste management as it can emit dangerous toxins when burned.