Giv­ing Thanks

Penticton Herald - - HOME & GARDEN - LISA SCOTT

This past week­end, many peo­ple took a mo­ment to con­tem­plate what they are thank­ful for. So I’d like to take this op­por­tu­nity to give thanks to ev­ery­one who has helped to make a dif­fer­ence to our regional pro­gram this year.

Firstly, I’d like to thank the many read­ers of the “In­va­sive Species” col­umn who take the time to share their sto­ries, re­port new sight­ings and make re­quests for spe­cific top­ics. I would like to thank the res­i­dents of the Okana­gan-Sim­ilka­meen who are help­ing to make a dif­fer­ence by pre­vent­ing the spread of un­wanted plants and other in­va­sive species. Many of you have re­quested a pre­sen­ta­tion to your class, club or as­so­ci­a­tion, or you’ve in­vited me onto your prop­erty to pro­vide you with ad­vice or en­cour­age­ment. I thank those of you who take the time to stop by our booth at com­mu­nity fes­ti­vals and fairs with your ques­tions and com­ments or talk to our sum­mer staff at boat launches.

Thanks as well to our en­thu­si­as­tic Field Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Jes­sica, our hard work­ing sum­mer stu­dents James, Tara, Sam, Tess and Car­ley, our field crew Gerry, David and Sam, and our ded­i­cated Board of Direc­tors. We have made huge strides this year thanks to these peo­ple, our fund­ing part­ners and the many oth­ers who rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of tak­ing ac­tion to pre­vent fur­ther spread of in­va­sive species.

Now I would like to give thanks for the weeds we do not have in our re­gion. These are just a few of the world’s worst in­va­sive plants and I think it goes with­out say­ing that these are in­vaders that we want to take all precautions to en­sure they never ar­rive. They are some of the fastest grow­ing, most eco­log­i­cally de­struc­tive plants in the world.

Kudzu is a climb­ing, de­cid­u­ous vine ca­pa­ble of reach­ing lengths of over 30 me­tres. Pre­ferred habi­tat in­cludes open, dis­turbed ar­eas such as road­sides, right-of-ways, forest edges and old fields. Kudzu of­ten grows over, smoth­ers and kills all other veg­e­ta­tion, in­clud­ing trees.

Kudzu is na­tive to Asia and was first in­tro­duced into the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Cen­ten­nial Ex­po­si­tion. It was widely planted through­out the east­ern United States in an at­tempt to con­trol ero­sion. Now it cov­ers be­tween 20,000 and 30,000 square kilo­me­tres of land in the south­east US and costs the econ­omy half a bil­lion dol­lars a year in lost farm­land and ef­forts to con­trol it. Com­mon names for kudzu in­clude: mile-a-minute vine, foot-anight vine, and the vine that ate the South.

Wa­ter hy­acinth is na­tive to South Amer­ica, but is now wide­spread in Asia, Africa, North Amer­ica, Aus­tralia and the UK. It was in­tro­duced to North Amer­ica in the late 1800s as an or­na­men­tal pond plant. It is a free-float­ing peren­nial plant that can grow to a height of one me­tre. Un­der­neath the wa­ter is a thick, heav­ily branched, dark fi­brous root sys­tem, while above the wa­ter, this in­vader has strik­ing light blue to vi­o­let flow­ers lo­cated on a ter­mi­nal spike.

Wa­ter hy­acinth is one of the fastest grow­ing plant species in ex­is­tence. Pop­u­la­tions can dou­ble their size in as lit­tle as two weeks. If not con­trolled, it can cover lit­er­ally an en­tire lake or pond. This blocks sun­light, im­pacts wa­ter flow and starves the wa­ter of oxy­gen re­sult­ing in fish kills and im­pacts to other aquatic species.

An­other plant that de­serves spe­cial men­tion is Salvinia mo­lesta, an aquatic fern. Orig­i­nally from South Amer­ica, it is now scat­tered through­out the south­east U.S., and is also know to oc­cur in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Hawaii.

This plant spreads at an alarm­ing rate; it is able to dou­ble its num­bers ev­ery 2.2 days un­der ideal con­di­tions.

If you con­sider this dou­bling rate and add just one plant to a wa­ter body, you will have over 8,000 plants within the first month. Equally trou­ble­some is the fact that this fern re­pro­duces as por­tions break off. This means that if a boat trav­els through a mat of these weeds there is a good chance that the plant will break into sev­eral pieces which each have the abil­ity to grow into new plants.

Also, the plant grows in large, thick mats. Mats of salvinia have been recorded to be as large as 96 square miles in area and up to one me­tre deep. These mats can block all sun­light from en­ter­ing the wa­ter and as they de­cay, the plants can cause a de­crease in dis­solved oxy­gen in the wa­ter body. Both of these ac­tions will se­verely re­duce the habi­tat avail­able for fish.

Sadly this plant was most likely in­tro­duced through the aquar­ium and land­scap­ing trades, and this con­tin­ues to be a pos­si­ble route of in­fes­ta­tion. This plant has been sold un­der many com­mon names in­clud­ing wa­ter vel­vet, salvinia, gi­ant salvinia, African pyle, aquar­ium wa­ter­moss, kariba weed, wa­ter fern and koi kandy.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on in­va­sive species go to our web­site: www.oa­siss.ca, Face­book page www.face­book.com/in­va­sivespecies so­ci­ety or con­tact Pro­gram Man­ager for the Okana­gan-Sim­ilka­meen, Lisa Scott, at 250-404-0115 or oa­siss@shaw.ca

The OA­SISS field crew has been kept busy re­mov­ing in­va­sive plants and also re­plant­ing ar­eas with na­tive species.

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