Welcome to the Scottish Invasives blog. Invasive non-native species (or INNS) are plants and animals that have been introduced to areas outside their natural range. INNS are currently recognised as one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. The Scottish Invasives blog is intended as an informal forum for those interested in invasive species control. If you wish to contribute, please get in contact. You can click on any of the images to see them at higher resolution.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Skunk cabbage control

This May we decided to experimentally dig out Skunk Cabbage from a burn here on the estate. There were a large number of plants ranging from tiny seedlings to full grown plants in the water on the bank, in the woods. We first assessed the plants structure decide what was the best approach.

We found that it has a structure a little like a leek with leaves wrapping around each other down to base plate with lateral roots from that. We decided to take the approach of pulling or digging out the base plate to see if that would destroy it's ability to regenerate. On a large plant the base plate can be around 30-40cm deep, on a seedling it is almost at ground level, it varies. We found new leaf buds inside the leaves at the base. Also that when we tried to pull the plant it would routinely separate right above where this bud was growing, presumably to protect the plant from spates.
We dug out all the plants we found, we also tried to pulverise the base plate on really large plants. The best tool is a small spade to get into tight spaces to dig. We think a smallish crow bar might be useful to bash the plate into oblivion, not sure. We do know it's time consuming but the NNSS website says it's not suitable for chemical control (in wet woodlands)
We visited the worst sites a month and a half later and found seedlings we missed, one regenerated plant where we couldn't get to the root but no signs of other plants coming back at all. We think that to get the base plate out, leaving the lateral roots is an effective control but we won't know for sure until next spring. Does this tally with the experience of others?

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