Rail Trail volunteers on the lookout for invasive species

Saugeen Rail Trail volunteers are on the prowl to try to eliminate invasive species.

On Saturday, May 21st, volunteers Bob and Michelle Hunter came across and pulled the first “garlic mustard”.  They started on the rail trail at Mill Street in Port Elgin and worked their way going South to Emma Street.

With their delicate white flowers and edible quality high in vitamins A and C, it has a strong, distinctive smell similar to garlic but, since its arrival in North America in the early 1800s, it has escaped into the wild and is now one of Ontario’s most aggressive forest invaders. most aggressive forest invaders

It can invade relatively undisturbed forests and, once established, it can displace native wildflowers like trilliums and trout lily. It also hinders other plants by interfering with the growth of fungi that bring nutrients to the roots of the plants.  Today, it has become one of the most aggressive forest invaders in Ontario.

The plant threatens several of Ontario’s plant species at risk, including American ginseng, drooping trillium, false rue-anemone, hoary mountain mint, white wood aster, wild hyacinth and wood poppy.

Photos submitted

In only two hours, the Hunters collected four large garbage bags full.  Unfortunately, there is so much more!  Once identified, you begin to see it everywhere … in people’s yards and alongside so many trails in town.

The Rail Trail volunteers contacted Frank Burrows, Manager of Parks with the town of Saugeen Shores and he said that, “Garlic mustard is problematic and a threat to our natural areas. At this point, we do not have an organized response to it. Our primary focus now is phragmities and other noxious weeds (Poison ivy, giant hogweed).”

Burrows added that, for those who are keen to help pull it, the town can offer to dispose of it BUT it should be bagged carefully so it can be disposed of in the landfill.

The main focus is to pick it in late May and early June before it goes to seed.  Each plant can spread up to 500 seeds!

The Rail Trail Association is hoping to get as many volunteers involved as possible to help fight this invasive species, either on the Rail Trail or in their own yards.

While being asked to bag the mustard plants, it has not yet been determined where to take the garbage bags but, in the meantime, bag the plants in sturdy green bags and leave in the sun.  Disposal information will soon be available.