B.C. group vs a new invasive plant

Published: May 6, 2020

floating heart, an invasive plant By Emilio100/Shutterstock

For more than a decade, the clump of lily pads with dainty yellow flowers lingered where it had been planted along the shore of Seymour Lake in northwest B.C. It wasn’t until groupings began to appear around the lake’s perimeter that locals realized they had a problem. “None of us knew the seriousness of it,” says Poppy Dubar, a lake resident. Now, Poppy and her neighbours are fighting the first known infestation of yellow floating heart west of Ontario. The invasive aquatic weed can be devastating in natural waterbodies; its thick mat of leaves depletes the lake of light and oxygen.

If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em. Some invasive plants are edible.

In 2015, Poppy and other locals formed the Seymour Lake Conservation Society and began looking for a solution to stop the plant from spreading by seed and by fragmentation (when tiny pieces of its stem take root). “This plant has reproduction down to a fine art,” says Allen Banner, a semi-retired forest ecologist and consultant for the SLCS. 

The group held work bees and hired summer students to knock back the weed. This year, they’re applying for funding to hire a research scientist to develop a long-term plan to eradicate the invasive. Until then, they’re maintaining a filter at the lake’s outflow, using lake-bottom blankets to suppress its growth along the shoreline, and continuing to pull and discard the plant’s stems. “We’re working hard to stop its spread,” says Poppy. “In the meantime, this allows the fish to breathe and lets some light into the lake.”

This story was originally published in the Aug./Sept. 2019 issue of Cottage Life.

Concerned about invasive species in Western Canada? Visit the Invasive Species Council of BC for more info.

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