Invasive plant species are considered to be one of the greatest threats to biodiversity not just on Vancouver Island, but worldwide, second only to loss of habitat, Vancouver Island is being attacked by many invasive species of plants. The Island has very diverse and rare ecosystems that support many rare and endangered species that depend on these habitats for their survival, Invasive plants can take over and force the native plants out.
Invasive plants are brought to the Island, either accidentally or intentionally, and include species like purple loosestrife, scotch broom, and Japanese knotweed. These are just a few of the plant species that are threatening our indigenous plant species on Vancouver Island.
These invasive plants can get established easily and because they may have no natural predators, they can quickly take over an area and quickly force out native species and this can also have an adverse effect on our native wildlife. As the animals usually do not eat the invasive plants and as these plants take over areas, it forces the wildlife to look further for food.
Some of these plants can have a direct negative effect on humans as well, some can have huge economic impacts by competing with agricultural plantings and forest harvesting areas. They can also pose significant threats to humans by causing skin irritation, burns, and poisonings.
Vancouver Island has a real problem with these plants, everyone who lives on the Island has seen the advance of plants like Scotch Broom. When I was a young man, you hardly ever saw this plant on the North Island, now it’s everywhere you look. I was hiking up a mountain in the Kelsey Bay area this year and near the top, almost out of the tree line, there it was, scotch broom. This really upset me.
The Blue Cornflower was first introduced from the Mediterranean area as a garden plant, but it soon escaped into the wild and now it can be found alongside dusty roads, open dry areas. You can use it to heal skin problems like acne, just boil the flowers and stems and then put a towel over your head and cover the bowl with the towel, after 15 minutes you can wash your face and believe me, you will feel a big difference. Read More….
Butter And Egg Plant
Butter & egg is another garden plant that has escaped into the wild to become a permanent resident. It has spread to all areas of the coast. The preference is full sun, dry conditions, and barren soil that is gravelly or sandy. The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees, which are strong enough to push past the palate to enter the throat of the corolla. Read More….
Canada thistle is a perennial plant that is invasive on the BC coast. It is considered a noxious weed under the BC Weed Control Act. This thistle is commonly found on edge of roads, stream banks, horse pastures, planted fields, logged-over areas, and other disturbed areas. It is a major concern on the coast and is a widespread problem throughout the province. Read More….
The Cherry Laurel plant is native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor. It has been introduced to North America and is used quite extensively as a garden/yard hedge. All parts of this plant are poisonous so care should be used in your choice of hedge material if you have children or pets that might induce this plant and its pretty looking berries. Read More….
Burdock is an invasive plant in BC. Invasive plants grow and spread quickly, forcing out native plants and causing damage to the health of our environment. Common burdock can seriously damage native ecosystems. Although found primarily on disturbed sites, it will spread to natural areas from nearby roadsides, logged-over areas, and unused fields. Read More….
The Common Tansy is a perennial and considered regionally noxious under the BC Weed Control Act. It has established itself on the coast of BC and in many other areas of B.C., We have it all over the Campbell River area. It prefers sunny areas with well-drained soil and often infests stream banks, fields, and disturbed sites such as roadsides and logged-over areas. It can be toxic to livestock and to humans if large quantities are consumed. Read More….
Dalmatian Toadflax was first brought to the BC coastal region as an ornamental. Its snapdragon-like beautiful yellow flowers make it a favorite among gardeners. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region and was introduced to North America in the late 1800s. It appeared in southeast B. C. by 1940. Read More….
Dame’s rocket is planted as an ornamental but quickly escapes cultivation because of its prolific seed set. Unfortunately, part of its success can be attributed to its wide distribution in wildflower seed mixes. It generally produces a basal rosette the first year, flowering the following year. The plants are prolific bloomers and produce large quantities of seed from May into July. Read More….
English Holly grows all over the BC coastal region and I personally have seen this tree in areas that have hardly been tread by man and yet, there they are. The problem is that many birds love the berries from these trees and after eating, the seeds are deposited in their droppings to all areas of the coast. Holly is a small broadleaf evergreen tree that can grow up to 20 meters high. Red berries are found on the female trees. Read More….
Giant Hogweed’s fast growth and large size allow it to readily occupy and crowd out native vegetation. In riparian areas it forms a dense canopy, driving out native species and causing stream bank erosion. The greatest concern of this plant is human health. The blister-like pustules on stems and stalks exude a clear watery sap that sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet radiation. Sunlight on the affected areas can result in severe burns that usually result in blistering and painful dermatitis. Read More….
Giant knotweed is a tall shrub with bamboo-like stems. It has been planted throughout south and central Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands as a garden ornamental but has quickly spread to non-garden areas to form dense thickets in a variety of habitats, including dry roadsides and moist stream banks. Small patches can quickly spread into large areas, leaving little room for native species to grow. It now can be found on most of the BC coast. Read More….
Goutweed (ground elder) is a plant that is native to Europe and northern Asia. The early settlers brought it to North America as an ornamental garden plant and a ground cover. Today it is a problematic invasive species that is commonly found in moist forests, ravine systems and along watercourses, l have seen it so thick along creeks that it has joined across the center to cover sections of the waterway completely. Read More….
Hairy Cats Ear
Hairy Cats Ear is well known on the southern coast, many a gardener has cursed them at one time or another. Hairy cat’s ear is a perennial plant with rough, hairy lobed leaves that grow to 15cm long, it is a low-lying edible herb or weed found in lawns, gardens, and fields. The plant is native to Europe but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand where most consider it to be an invasive weed. Read More….
Himalayan Balsam has flowers that resemble an english policeman’s helmet (one of its common names). It is native to the western Himalaya and was brought to Canada in the early 1900s as an ornamental garden plant. This plant is swiftly spreading through the watercourses and along logging roads all over the coast and is a real problem on Vancouver Island. Read More….
Japanese knotweed has established itself on the coast of BC and now grows on all parts of the coast. It is a perennial originally from Asia, it was introduced to North America in the late 1800s as an ornamental. It has horrendous invasive potential due to its rapid growth and reproductive capabilities. This plant flourishes along streamside banks, ditches, wetlands, and disturbed areas. Read More….
Orchard Grass is widely distributed throughout most of the south coast and quite invasive on Vancouver Island and is more common in the southern half. Orchardgrass was introduced to North America from Europe as a forage grass over 200 years ago. Since then, it has spread through much of Canada and the U.S. and is still cultivated for hay and pasture. Read More….
The Ox-Eye Daisy is a rhizomatous perennial that grows up to 75 cm tall. Due to its unpleasant taste and odor, most grazers avoid this plant, leaving it to spread easily within grazed grasslands, pastures, and rangelands. It smells like baby vomit. Infestations decrease forage for wildlife, decrease local plant biodiversity, and may compromise vegetative ground cover due to its growth form that results in exposed soil. It invades fields, waste places, and roadsides. Read More….
Periwinkle has established itself on southern Vancouver Island and is now easy to find as far north as Campbell River. It came to Vancouver Island as a garden ornamental. But quickly escaped to the wild. It grows in various areas of the BC coast. Bright blue or violet flowers, dark leaves, and the plants’ ability to grow in shade make it attractive in the garden. It is very pretty. Read More….
Purple loosestrife is a woody half shrub, wetland perennial, considered regionally noxious under the BC Weed Control Act. It is found in wet areas at low to mid-elevations, growing in ditches, irrigation canals, marshes, stream and lake shorelines, and shallow ponds. It is common in the Lower Fraser Valley and found all over Vancouver Island. Read More….
Scotch broom is an escaped garden ornamental, common west of the Coast Mountains in southwest BC, and is out of control on the BC coast. It is an evergreen shrub, with bright yellow flowers that may have red markings in the middle. The flat seedpods are initially green, turning dark brown to black with maturity, and are hairy. It grows up to 3 meters in height at maturity. Read More….
Spotted knapweed is a biennial to short-lived perennial and considered regionally noxious under the BC Weed Control Act. Currently distributed throughout southern BC. It first appeared on Vancouver island in 1905 and has established itself quite well with many very large patches showing up on the North Island. Read More….
Spurge laurel is a new invasive plant for coastal BC. It is also found in warmer parts of the province, in roadsides, moist woods, and lowland areas. Almost all parts of the plant are highly poisonous to pets, livestock, and humans. The leaves, bark, and berries are toxic when eaten, or even just touching them can cause skin irritations, blistering, swelling of the tongue, nausea, and even a coma from ingesting any part. Read More….
St Johns Wort
St. Johns wort is showing up more and more on coastal BC and is a nasty invasive plant that has some good medicinal qualities. It has long been used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory for strains, sprains, and contusions. It also has been used to treat muscular spasms, cramps, and tension that results in muscular spasms. Read More….
The wild carrot is also known as Queens Anne Lace and it is the ancestor of the cultivated carrot. It is known on the coast as the wild carrot, it is not generally considered edible. The plant is native to Europe and Asia but has become well established along roadsides, clearings, and waste areas throughout much of the pacific northwest. Read More….
Yellow Flag Iris
Many ponds, lakes, and Island gardens of Vancouver Island are surrounded by a beautiful water-loving plant called Yellow Flag Iris. They are harmless-looking and quite fetching at first glance, but don’t let their pretty looks fool you, for this plant can cause serious problems to the local ecosystems. This iris grows in dense patches that will force native plants out, alter the natural habitat and block water flow. The plant grows over all of Vancouver Island. Read More….