Wylie Thomas burning carpet burweed at Cattle Point. The invasive plant has a shallow root and germinates quickly, making it hard to eradicate. However, a propane torch is an effective tool to kill it because of the shallow root. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Wylie Thomas burning carpet burweed at Cattle Point. The invasive plant has a shallow root and germinates quickly, making it hard to eradicate. However, a propane torch is an effective tool to kill it because of the shallow root. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay torching invasive burweed at Cattle Point

Carpet burweed threatens last of the camas meadows

With the flick of the flint, Wylie Thomas aims the propane torch at a spot on the Cattle Point grass.

Thomas burns a spot of grass that would otherwise look innocuous. It’s actually carpet burweed (soliva sessilis), an invasive plant threatening to suffocate the already at-risk species endemic to the rare maritime ecosystem of Cattle Point and Uplands Park.

The plant suppresses native species such as meadow foam and camas.

Anyone walking through Uplands and Cattle Point right now will notice plenty of burned spots on the ground.

“Oak Bay had already identified carpet burweed when I got here in 2008 known about this but we are making a bigger effort to eradicate it,” said Thomas, a conservation biologist who manages the federally funded Habitat Restoration Stewardship project at Uplands and Cattle Point for Oak Bay.

READ ALSO: Feds designated Uplands Park a national heritage site, fund plant restoration

Wylie Thomas holds Carpet burweed at Cattle Point. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Thomas said carpet burweed was first observed in Canada in 1996 at Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, where it now encompasses an area of many thousand square metres.

“By 2005, it had spread to other parks in our region including Cattle Point, Beacon Hill Park and Jordan Regional Park, where several campsites have been closed down as a result,” he said.

It loves fields and rocky wastelands and is invading Garry oak associated wildflower meadows, which are one of the most endangered ecological communities in Canada, Thomas said.

Carpet burweed is also a problem for golf courses, noted Oak Bay manager of parks services, Chris Hyde Lay, who is hoping to keep it out of Henderson golf course and, even more importantly, out of the meadows of Uplands Park.

“We have increased the effort to eradicate it,” Hyde Lay said. “We want the public to know what we’re doing.”

“Through the Habitat Restoration Stewardship project, the federal government has given us considerable funding over the last many years to protect and restore the ecosystem for all the rare and endangered plants that grow in Uplands Park,” Hyde Lay said.

FROM THE ARCHIVE, 2011: Burweed bashing continues at Cattle Point

Burweed originates from South America. What makes it so challenging is how quickly it germinates, Thomas said, and that it germinates over winter when other plants are less active.

“They are annuals, and they grow to about the size of a dinner plate and it has sharp seeds. You can’t walk on it with bare feet,” Thomas said.

Come spring, golf courses end up with large brown spots where the burweed has died for the year.

Torches are effective because the plant has shallow roots. The flame also burns the seeds.

“You can’t use a torch on a dandelion or weeds with a deep taproot, they’ll come back, but it kills the burweed,” Hyde Lay said.

Another way to kill it is to let the grass grow around it.

“Originally, Oak Bay fenced off an area and let the grasses grow up to drown it out but the burweed had already hopped the fence,” Thomas said.

The biggest thing people can do to help minimize its spread is to stick to the paths in Cattle Point and Uplands.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter< and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

James Taylor, a Saanich resident and member of the Curve Lake First Nation, walked all over Greater Victoria on May 5 in honour of Red Dress Day and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Devon Bidal/News staff)
Indigenous man walks Greater Victoria to honour missing and murdered women and girls

James Taylor, of the Curve Lake First Nation, marks Red Dress Day with healing walk, songs

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested for allegedly spitting, yelling anti-Asian racial slurs at a mother and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

Victoria police is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying this suspect after they allegedly robbed a Douglas Street bank on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek identity of suspect who alllegedly robbed Victoria bank

Officers were called to a bank in the 1000-block of Douglas Street just after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday

Victoria police said Wednesday that they continue to look for Belinda Ann Cameron, who was last seen on May 5, 2005. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police still looking for Belinda Cameron who was last seen 16 years ago

Cameron was reported missing on June 4, 2005, and her case is deemed suspicious

Colwood-based writer Esi Edugyan will speak about the deep research she did before writing <em>Washington Black</em>, her third novel. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood author Esi Edugyan giving talk May 6 about her research and writing process

Event is part of Royal Road’s Changemaker series celebrating its 25th anniversary

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Most Read