We have had a wet, wet spring, but don’t let that dampen your spirits! The weeds are still popping up and we can use YOUR help to spot them. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go it alone. We are hosting a webinar in partnership with the PNW Invasive Plant Council and Skamania County on invasive plant ID and how to report them. Learn about your least favorite weeds!
Webinar: Tuesday, 05/10/22, 5:30pm–8:30pm
Ready to get out there? We will be hosting our first BioBlitz of the year May 13th and 14th. To participate you will need set up an EddMaps account and add the Weed Watchers – Eradication Nation project to your profile (click on your profile > “Projects” sidebar > “Explore Projects” > search for or select from the drop down menu “Weed Watchers – Eradication Nation” > click green “Join Project” button at the bottom) or follow this link and click add project at the bottom. When you submit sightings, remember to submit to the Weed Watchers project so we can give you credit for your submissions. The top two submitters will receive an Eradication Nation Chico bag! Questions regarding how to participate should be directed to Brad Mead at the contact information at the bottom of this newsletter.
Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
In addition to our work with garlic mustard, we at Eradication Nation are also monitoring and treating populations of giant hogweed this spring. Giant Hogweed is a Class A noxious weed in Washington, which means that it’s not widespread yet, but it has serious potential to spread and of causing a lot of damage to our local ecosystem. Hogweed is hyper competitive since it does not have natural predators or diseases to keep it in check. This advantage over native species allows hogweed to push them out which deprives wildlife of food and shelter the native plants provide. Imagine going to the grocery store you had been visiting for years to buy food only to find a giant warehouse in its place that only sells key chains to other businesses. You try to go to another store, but all your favorite food is always gone by the time you get there because people who live nearby always get there first. This is what wildlife experiences when invasive plants like hogweed push out the native plants they need to survive.
Giant hogweed can grow up to 15 feet tall. It has deeply incised (toothed) leaves and grows umbels (flat clusters) of flowers in mid-May to July that can be up to 2.5 feet wide. Giant hogweed’s stem is hollow and has purple blotches on it. If you see this plant, don’t touch it. Its sap is phytotoxic, which means that if you get sap on your skin and then it is exposed to the sun, it can cause severe burns and blisters which can cause permanent scarring.
A native lookalike to giant hogweed is cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum). These plants are easily confused, but the main difference is their size. Giant hogweed grows up to 20 feet tall while cow parsnip only grows 5-8 feet tall. Cow parsnip’s flower heads also only reach 1 foot in diameter while those of giant hogweed can be 2.5 feet wide. Cow parsnip’s stem is hairy and has grooves, and the leaves are not as deeply incised as those of giant hogweed. Though cow parsnip is native, its sap is also phytotoxic, but less than giant hogweed. Take caution around both plants! See the King County webpage for more information.