'Spot it. Report it. Remove it.' City kicks off invasive weed campaign

As Edmonton grows greener each day, the city is warning about invasive weeds that can wipe out native plants, infest waterways and damage infrastructure.

Asking residents to help nip the problem in the bud, the City of Edmonton kicked off a campaign Wednesday at Hawrelak Park with the slogan “Spot it. Report it. Remove it.”

Qiting Chen, a pest management specialist, said though the city has a monitoring program, residents can help identify and report invasive species.

“There’s a great risk to biodiversity, and our native plants are being threatened by the invasive plants,” Chen told media Wednesday. 

She said invasive species can spread from people’s gardens and get into ravines and parks. 

“We want Edmontonians to report sightings, so we can effectively track and help reduce the number of invasive weeds in our city.”

Residents who see plants that come back every year, spread quickly and grow in different conditions may conclude they are not native, Chen said.  

Qiting Chen, a pest management specialist with the City of Edmonton, finds the invasive species burdock in Hawrelak Park on Wednesday. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

“That is the time to ask whether it’s an invasive plant.”

Himalayan balsam, creeping bellflower, and garlic mustard are common invasive species now found in Edmonton.

Invasive species send out toxins from their roots that can destroy native plants.

The city held the year’s first volunteer weed pull on Mother’s Day weekend at Mill Creek Ravine, where garlic mustard proliferates in early spring.

The plant has distinctive heart-shaped leaves and starts to come up in April when everything else is still brown, Chen said. It grows tiny white flowers when it matures.

Field scabious has invaded the Terwillegar off-leash area on Rabbit Hill Road.

Japanese knotweed, a big problem in B.C., is a relatively new species in Edmonton. It can grow through cracks in concrete and foundations, damaging infrastructure.

Residents can report invasive species to the city’s 311 line or through the mobile app.

The city will hold volunteer weed pulls in May and June.

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