Monday, May 21, 2018


Goutweed has been making its' presence known here in Elmira in a big way. It is an invasive plant originally from Europe and northern Asia. It was brought to North America to be used as an ornamental plant in gardens and as a low maintenance ground cover. The problem is that it is too good as ground cover as it rapidly and uncontrollably spreads forming dense patches that displace native plants and reduces species diversity.

Goutweed has been described as having compound leaves which can be green or white in colour. By mid-summer the tall leafy stems produce clusters of white flowers. The roots are impenetrable and spread underground in all directions including in and around other plants roots. Moist soil and light shade help spread this plant although it can also tolerate heavily shaded areas. Logged forests and abandoned fields are often home to Goutweed although unfortunately lawns and gardens will also host it.

Control is very difficult with persistent hand pulling and removal of all underground roots. This may succeed in the early days only of infestation. Also frequent mowing at short heights will slow its' spread. Covering with black plastic sheeting will also inhibit its' growth and spread. The literature claims that glyphosate (Roundup) will kill the plant because the chemical moves into the roots. Unfortunately contact herbicides (Weed Be Gone?) on the leaves are ineffective. This is unfortunate because glyphosate has become ubiquitous in our groundwater courtesy of its' effectiveness and hence mass use.

Recently Woolwich Council has been approached about this growing problem by at least one local citizen and asked for assistance. The last I heard was that they had agreed to provide some assistance although whether or not that has happened yet I am unsure.

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