Tackling Invasive Plants

There are countless examples of how introductions of non-native wildlife have led to bad consequences for native flora and fauna. Sadly Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve is no exception. The main species on the Reserve hit list are giant hogweed, two-spined acaena, and Japanese rose.

Giant Hogweed Removal

Every spring we move through the dunes like a herd of grazing wildebeast removing giant hogweed plants which are growing here. The vast majority of these plants are very small and so we don’t encounter the problems associated with removal of large plants where sap can cause nasty skin burns if not tackled safely. Much more commonly seen along the sides of water courses, it is strange to find this in the sand dunes. This plant can form dense patches which, along with the obvious risks to human health, is why we intend to eradicate it from the nature reserve.

Two-spined Acaena

Although it sounds like a mythical, reptilian creature, this is a low growing plant that has the potential to do great harm to the dune ecosystem. No more stark an example of this can be found at Lindisfarne in Northumberland where great swathes of a very similar plant (pirri-pirri-bur) crowd out the native dune flora. It also has a very effective method of seed dispersal: producing burs rather like those of burdock which are very effective in sticking to clothes, boot laces and dog’s fur. However, unlike burdock, these burs disintegrate when you attempt to remove them. There have been cases of dogs needing to be shaved because the burs could not all be pulled out! It is hoped that we can eradicate this plant from the nature reserve at Aberlady.

Japanese Rose

This plant is currently spreading its way through the dunes and more volunteer time will need to be spent removing it over the next few years.



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