Alien wil­low rings alarm bells in the North­east

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

Lud­wigia pe­ru­viana is spread­ing rapidly in As­sam, pos­ing a threat to the state's bio­di­ver­sity. The weed, called prim­rose wil­low, is na­tive to Cen­tral and South Amer­ica, and flour­ishes in sandy and min­er­al­rich soil of wet­lands. Re­searchers with the As­sam Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity and Tin­sukia-based ac­tion group, Ever­green Earth, say the weed has al­ready dam­aged marsh­land plants, par­tic­u­larly along the Dhan­siri and Kopili rivers, and has been com­pet­ing with plants in peat-land ecosys­tem since it was spot­ted in Karbi An­g­long dis­trict in 1993. The in­va­sive weed can clog nat­u­ral wa­ter­ways, in­crease sed­i­men­ta­tion, re­sult in ac­cu­mu­la­tion of or­ganic mat­ter caus­ing de­oxy­gena­tion of wa­ter col­umns, which in turn, can lead to dis­rup­tion of fresh aquatic or­gan­isms. The re­searchers have called for ur­gent man­age­ment of the weed, which has also been spread­ing in Tamil Nadu, Ker­ala, the An­damans and West Ben­gal.

KYLE FLEM­ING

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