Noxious weeds in Croyde and Georgeham!
It’s the ones growing on your land that you need to keep an eye on. While it is not an offence to allow the following ten “harmful weeds” and “invasive non-native plants” to grow on your land, it is necessary to prevent them spreading on to other people’s property or into the wild. Failure to control these species spreading from your land can result in a fine or prosecution.
Harmful weeds (Weeds Act 1959)
Common Ragwort Senecio Jacobaea is poisonous to horses, cattle, and sheep, hence really noxious!
In the first year after a seed germinates ragwort forms a rosette of leaves as in the photo below:
In its second year it produces yellow flowers and then a mass of seeds which blow away. It is fairly easy to pull up the plants before they set seed, or you can cut them down, and/or burn them on site, or, if you are qualified and certified to do so, spray them with herbicide.
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense spreads by seed and by underground stems:
Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare forms a first year rosette and seed the next year. Cutting before set seed is probably the best method of preventing spread. Both are not poisonous but clearly not desirable on grazed land or in hay:
Broad–leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius and Curled Dock Rumex crispus are also classed as harmful weeds. They are difficult to eliminate but cutting before seeding will stop them spreading to neighbours’ land.
Invasive non-native plants (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)
Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica is perennial and spreads through underground stems (rhizomes) and can regrow from small fragments even though it does not set seed. It is very invasive. Digging out is possible, but as rhizomes grow deeply, regrowth usually occurs which needs destroying. This method also creates problems over disposal as Japanese knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This requires disposal at licensed landfill sites. Alternatively, it can be destroyed on site by cutting or digging it repeatedly and burning it when dry. In this way the energy reserves in the remaining underground parts will be gradually exhausted; a process which may, however, take several seasons. Similarly treatment with herbicides will require several repeated applications. On no account should Japanese knotweed be included with normal household waste or put out in green waste collection schemes.
Himalayan Balsam is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens..
Himalayan Balsam grows rapidly from seed and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes. It is fairly easy to pull up the plants before they set seed, or you can cut them down, or burn them on site, or, if you are qualified and certified to do so, spray them with herbicide. Before using weedkillers alongside waterways it is necessary to contact the Environment Agency. Additional weed seedlings will germinate after the parent plants are killed off so repeat treatments are necessary.
Rhododendron ponticum is a familiar species which should be controlled.
Giant Hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum is not known to be in the parish but watch out as it has been seen near Combe Martin, see www.planttracker.org.uk
New Zealand Pigmyweed Crassula helmsi is an aquatic plant not known to be in the parish or county.
For more detail about the law and control measures click on www.gov.uk
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Dr Eirene Williams CEnv FCIEEM(Rtd)
T. 01271 890367