Agriculture & Environmental Weekly Focus

Noxious and Prohibited Noxious Weeds Found Around the Crowsnest Pass

If you have any questions about the noxious and prohibited noxious weeds listed below and how to remove them, please contact the Agriculture and Environmental Services Department at 403-562-8600.

For weed and pest control, soil conservation and any agricultural or environmental concerns within the Municipality, please submit a form at:

https://crowsnest.omnigo.one/CESIReportExec/olr/main.aspx 

Weed Wednesdays Returning April 5!

Follow us every Wednesday for a new post on invasive species or participate in our Weed Wednesday Weed Pulls!

Every Wednesday in the months of June, July, and August, we will be hosting a weed pull at various locations throughout the Crowsnest Pass. This is a great opportunity to attend one of our weed workshops, pull some invasive species and help us spread some native wildflower seeds! By participating in our weed pulls you are saving hundreds of thousands of seeds from spreading and protecting our native grasses and flowers which is essential for maintaining a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem.

In addition to weekly weed pulls, we will be posting a new invasive species on our facebook page and website! You can find information on the description, habitats, and control methods for these invasive plants.

Just as a reminder, there are two types of regulated weeds in Alberta; noxious and prohibited noxious.

NOXIOUS WEEDS - It is the responsibility of the property owner or occupier to control and prevent further spread of these noxious weeds. To control, means to inhibit the growth or spread, and/or destroy.

PROHIBITED NOXIOUS WEEDS - It is the responsibility of the landowner or occupier to destroy prohibited noxious weeds. To destroy, means to kill all growing parts of the weed and to render the reproductive mechanisms of the weed non-viable.

Flower Fridays

Follow us for Flower Fridays! Every Friday throughout the summer, we will be posting a flower that is native to Alberta and found in the Crowsnest Pass! We will share a photo, description of the plant, and what habitats you can look for these native flowers!

Our department is focused on removing invasive species from our ecosystems so we can protect the biodiversity here in the Crowsnest Pass. It is important to protect these beautiful flowers and ensure they continue to grow so it is encouraged not to pick them, but rather take a picture to help ensure their beauty lasts forever. If you would like to grow these native perennial flowers in your garden, please contact The Agriculture and Environmental Department. We have information on where you can buy clean, native seeds here in Alberta.

Aquatic Invasives

As the weather begins to warm up and the snow begins to melt, it is easy to get excited about summer. One important thing to remember this year is to clean your watercraft and fishing waders! This will help stop the spread of both invasive seeds and invasive aquatics.

The Crowsnest Pass is at the head of the Oldman Watershed; the Crowsnest River joins the Oldman River, then Saskatchewan River before making its way out to Hudson Bay. The control efforts we put in place here will affect everyone downstream of us as well. It is important to clean and inspect all watercraft including kayaks, paddleboards, trailers, and gear. Ensure all mud and plants have been cleaned off equipment by scrubbing, rinsing, or pressure washing and ensure you are away from storm drains, ditches, and waterways while cleaning. It is best practice to dry your gear out before using it in another waterbody.

In Alberta, moss balls have been sold in pet and gardens stores but unfortunately have been found to have zebra mussels in them. If you have purchased a moss ball since January 1, 2021, please dispose of it following provincial guidelines.

Alberta's Rat Program

Alberta has been rat free since 1950 when the Rat Program was introduced. This means we have no resident population of rats. The Norway rat is not able to survive in natural areas nor in winter, so it needs to live in human structures to survive. Norway rats were introduced to the east coast of Canada in 1775 and spread westward. Rats entered Saskatchewan in the 1920s and could extend their range about 24 km each year. Alberta put a quick stop to this range extension by putting the Rat Program in place. If you suspect a Norway rat or any member of the genus Rattus, please report it to your Agriculture and Environmental department or call 310-FARM.

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetle is a bark beetle species that is native to North America although is spreading beyond its native range as it attacks and kills mature trees. These beetles bore through the bark and mine the soft layer between the bark and wood of the tree leaving behind horizontal galleries and introducing blue-stain fungi.

The beetles lay eggs that hatch into larvae. The larvae consume the soft layer called phloem. With the combination of blue-stain fungi and consumption of phloem, pine trees can die within one month. The Mountain Pine Beetle is the most aggressive and destructive bark beetle in Western Canada. It is about 5 mm in size, black to dark brown, and cylindrically shaped with a hard exoskeleton. It attacks a wide range of pine trees including western white, limber, jacks, ponderosa, and Alberta’s provincial tree - lodgepole pine. If you believe you have an infected tree on your property, please report and contact the Agriculture and Environmental Department.

Wild Boars

Wild Boars are ‘at large’ when not being raised as livestock. Wild boars have made their way onto the provincially regulated pest list as an invasive species because it is one of the most damaging invasive species causing damage to property, agricultural crops, pastures, and are vectors for disease that endanger people, livestock, and wildlife.

Wild boars were introduced into Alberta in the 1980-90s as livestock. Some escaped their enclosures and now thrive as feral species. Wild boar not only destroy agricultural crops, but also prey on newborn cattle, poultry, and goats. The threat of disease transfer to livestock, humans and wildlife is serious and could cause a huge economic loss for Alberta’s agriculture industry. Wild boars are carriers of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which would cause immediate shut down of Alberta’s pork and beef exports costing $65 billion dollars nationwide.

A bounty was offered in Alberta if a pair of ears were turned in although hunting is no longer deemed an effective control option and may have exacerbated the issue. Wild boars are quick learners and pass this information on to their offspring. There are no reported sightings in the Crowsnest Pass or even southern Alberta, however, it is important to raise awareness so everyone knows the signs.

Signs to watch out for is rooting in meadows or pastures, droppings, crop damage, wallowing.  The tracks are large, rounder than deer tracks. Wild boars are square shaped with drooping bellies, their shoulders stand above their rears and legs are thick to their feet.  We are asking for everyone’s help! Report any observations or sightings throughout the province by calling 310-FARM or by contacting the Agriculture and Environmental Department.

Ground Squirrels

Columbian Ground Squirrels are the most common ground squirrel species you will find here in the Crowsnest Pass. These squirrels can be found in eastern British Columbia and Western Alberta and some northwestern states. It is the second largest member of the genus Urocitellus (Ground Squirrels). You can identify these ground squirrels by their reddish-tan fur on the face, chest, legs, and underbelly with white around the eyes and a reddish- black tail. These guys prefer living in alpine meadows, dry grasslands, bushy areas, and ballparks! They have a gestation period of 24 days, weigh about 470 g or 1 lbs, and hibernates approximately 7-8 months of the year.

So why has this squirrel found themselves on the nuisance list in Alberta? Columbian Ground Squirrels damage garden plants, building foundations, and fences, and create tripping hazards from their burrows. Ground squirrels carry fleas, ticks, and mites which carry diseases harmful to humans and other animals such as Lyme disease, encephalitis, and rocky mountain spotted fever, and can serve as reservoirs for sylvatic (bubonic) plague in areas that are infected. Please note these transmissions are very rare but remains important to report large infestations or ground squirrels burrowing close to homes and buildings.

Canada's Agriculture Day

Agriculture day started in 2016 to celebrate farming and food and to learn more about where our food comes from. Agriculture is key for economic growth and recovery in Alberta, it is the backbone for the province. Alberta agriculture has been happening for over a century and includes cattle, chickens, bees, pigs, sheep, bison, wheat, barley, potatoes, canola and so much more! 

Agriculture employs 75,000 Albertans and contributes billions of dollars to our GDP. Alberta’s agriculture has a well-earned reputation for food safety systems, high-quality agricultural products, safe farming practices, and techniques that help reduce disturbance on ecosystems, wildlife, and the land.

Albertan farmers export wheat to nearly 70 countries around the world and Alberta beef is world famous being graded as AA or higher! Albertan beef producers set the standard for ethically raised beef.

Canada’s Agriculture Day is a great opportunity to show our appreciation for producers and those that work in the agriculture and food processing sector. You can share what agriculture means to you by going to social media and post photos of working farmers, prairie landscapes, all-Canadian cooked meals, post a ‘Fork-up’ selfie and tag it with #CdnAgDay ! Fun fact: As of 2019, Alberta is home to 41% of Canada’s cows and 40% of honeybee colonies!

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) also known as swamp fever, is a disease that affects horses and other members of the equine family.  EIA is caused by a retrovirus that is transmitted by bloodsucking and biting insects such as horseflies and deer flies. This endemic virus is found in the Americas, parts of Europe, South Africa, Russia, and the Middle and Far East and can be transmitted through blood, milk, and the placenta. A loss of coordination is often the only noticeable symptom, though general weakness, jaundice, weight loss, and swelling of the extremities are other signs.

As of December 6, 2021, there were 87 cases in Alberta located in 10 different counties. Infected animals remain carriers of the virus for life putting other animals at risk. EIA is a federally reportable disease, so if you suspect your horses may have EIA, you must notify the CFIA and contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Please note, there is no human health risk with EIA.

Play Clean Go

Play Clean Go is one of the most effective ways to prevent invasive species from spreading to new natural areas. You can apply these actions throughout the entire year, even in winter! It may not be growing season, but some plants are still able to spread seeds in the winter. All you have to do is check your gear, equipment, and animals for mud and plants before leaving the recreational site.

If you follow these simple steps, you are helping to stop invasive species in their tracks!

REMOVE plants and mud from animals, boots, gear, and vehicles.
CLEAN your gear before entering or leaving the site.
STAY on designated trails and roads.
USE certified or local firewood and hay.

Whether you are a fisherman, camper, mountain biker, backpacker, or off-highway vehicle operator, you all have a risk of spreading unwanted seeds. Unwanted seeds and pests can easily spread through water, mud, wind, vehicles, and clothing so it is important to make sure you aren’t taking anything with you when you leave!

June 5-11 is Play Clean Go awareness week. Check out their webpage for dozens of free materials to help you show outdoor enthusiasts how to stop spreading invasive species and pests.

What is the Problem with Invasive Plants?

Invasive plants can spread rapidly and outcompete native vegetation. Some plants were brought here intentionally as an ornamental or brought in for cultivation, others made their way here by hitching a ride on vehicles, boots, animals, machinery, and the wind. Disturbed areas are a perfect place for invasive weeds, but they can also find their way into riparian areas, pastures, and grasslands outcompeting native vegetation for sunlight, water, and soil nutrients.

Alberta has 75 regulated weeds, none of which are native to Canada. With no natural predators, these weeds become prolific seed spreaders. Invasive plants reduce wildlife habitat, decrease biodiversity, and increase soil erosion and fire risk. These invasive plants won’t go away on their own, so we use a variety of different control methods to keep these species in-check. These control methods include manual hand pulling, applying herbicides, mowing, and bio control.

EDD MapS

EDD MapS is used for EDRR (Early Detection Rapid Response) and mapping invasive species. This is a documenting, web-based mapping system for invasive pests and plant species. Fast and easy to use, this app has local and national distribution maps, a library of identification and management information, and a verifier checks all reports. You mark your location using a pin or a polygon and upload photos of the specimen.


You can submit findings and observations through interactive queries into the database where you can maintain your personal records. Once verified, your submitted data is available to researchers, scientists, educators, conservationists, farmers, ecologists, foresters, agricultural fieldmen, and parks. You can create a profile through the app or upload your files on the computer. For more information EDDMaps, please visit www.eddmaps.org or contact the Agriculture and Environmental Department.

Detecting Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Cattle

Early detection of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in cattle is vital in preventing the spread and avoiding major economic consequences for the cattle industry. In Canada, many animal diseases are absent. However, they are present in other countries and continue to threaten Canada’s beef and dairy production. If you notice your cattle have depression/ fever/ anorexia with excessive saliva, vesicles, or painful lameness, call your veterinarian right away.
 
For more information on enhancing emergency management in the livestock and poultry industry, please visit Animal Health Emergency Management (AHEM) Project – Animal Health Emergency Management (AHEM) project at https://animalhealth.ca/ahem/. The Animal Health Emergency Project (AHEM) website offers training and workshops and has some great resources about biosecurity and animal disease information. The Agriculture and Environmental Department currently has extra copies of the AHEM Producer Workbook and Producer Summary pamphlet, contact us today to pick up your copy!

What is the Pest Control Act?

The Pest Control Act refers to any plant, animal, insect, bird, or disease that can destroy or harm livestock, land, or property in Alberta. This allows the Minister’s authority to declare them as pests. Big game, game birds, endangered animals, and birds of prey are not included in the Pest Control Act to ensure no conflict with the Wildlife Act. There are two categories that the Pest Act refers to: Pest Species and Nuisance Species. 

Some Pest Species include grasshoppers, bacterial ring rot, rabies, Dutch elm disease, and any rat species or strains derived from genus Rattus. Wild boars are also considered to be pests in areas where they are at-large in Alberta.

Nuisance species include coyotes, house mouse, skunks, and Columbian ground squirrels. A horse can be declared as a nuisance in Alberta if it is at large within the seven wildlife management units. To see a full list of these wildlife management units, please refer to the Wildlife Regulation.

Alberta has had the Rat Program since 1950 and has rat-free status meaning there is no resident population within the province. If you see a rat, note location, and safely take a picture and send the information to 310-FARM or contact the Agriculture and Environmental Department. 

What are Annual Plants?

Annual plants complete their life cycle in one year meaning they go from germination, to flowering stalk to seed all in on year. There are two types of annuals: winter and summer annuals. 

Winter annuals live their life cycle throughout the winter; germinating in the fall, wintering over as a rosette then produce seed in the spring. They die back in late spring/ early summer completing their life cycle before summer. Good examples of this are Downy brome and Jointed goatgrass. Summer annuals, like Himalayan balsam, germinate in the spring and complete its life cycle by the end of the summer. The recommended time to control winter annuals is in the fall from mid-October to freeze up. Winter annuals can be controlled in the spring as well, but it is best to do early before these plants begin actively growing and green- up. 

For any further information on plant life cycles, you can contact the Agricultural and Environmental Department or stay tuned for more Weed Wednesday posts! 

What are Biennial Plants?

Biennial plants live for two growing seasons. Their first year they produce a basal rosette and then in the second year they grow into a flowering stalk producing seeds. These biennials die back in the fall and do not return the following year. A basal rosette is a circle of leaves that lay close to the ground and radiate from the center point, typically the taproot. The fall is a great time to control these biennial plants while they are in the rosette stage.  

Examples of biennial weeds are common mullein, black henbane and blueweed. For any further information on plant life cycles, you can contact the Agricultural and Environmental Department or stay tuned for more Weed Wednesday posts! 

What are Perennial Plants?

Perennials are plants that live more than three years and continue to come back year after. Some perennials can have substantial life spans; trees are a good example. Perennials typically have vegetative reproduction structures that enable them to reproduce without seeds. These can include stolons, rhizomes, bulbs, or tubers. There are two types of perennial plants: simple and creeping perennials.

Simple perennials grow as individual plants and have tap roots. They may regenerate after being cut or injured but typically reproduce by seed. The creeping rooted perennials have many horizontal creeping stems, such as rhizomes and stolons, that radiate out from the parent plant allowing it to generate tubers and/or new plant shoots.

An example of a simple perennial weed is baby’s breath, and examples of creeping perennial weeds are Canada thistle and Creeping bellflower. Perennials are best controlled when they are still growing in early fall, generally before harvest time. For further information on plant life cycles, contact the Agricultural and Environmental Department.

What is the Soil Conservation Act?

The Soil Conservation Act was developed to help fight against soil erosion by encouraging sound soil conservation practices, preserve Alberta’s agricultural land resources and ensure productivity in the farming sector long-term. 

In the 1930’s, ‘black blizzards’ were created from high velocity winds, for this reason, this era became known as the ‘dirty thirties'. These dust storms affected the American and Canadian prairies by blowing away much of the topsoil damaging the agriculture, ecology, and economy. In south-eastern Alberta, more than 10,000 farmsteads were abandoned. This wind erosion initiated the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and The Control of Soil Drifting Act in 1935, which was replaced by The Soil Conservation Act in 1962. Many of the soil conservation practices and procedures such as grass cover, extending crop rotations, shelterbelts, and construction of dams and dugouts are still used today. 

To learn more about the Soil Conservation Act please call the Agricultural and Environmental Department or visit the link below

Manual (gov.ab.ca)

What is the Weed Control Act?

The Weed Control Act was established in 1907 making it one of Alberta’s oldest pieces of legislation. The Weed Control Act was developed to manage invasive weed species and protect Alberta’s native vegetation and agricultural crops. Invasive species present significant risk not only ecologically, but socially and economically. The Weed Control Act defines weeds in two categories: Noxious and Prohibited Noxious. 

Noxious weeds are generally found throughout the province and have negative effects on the ecosystems and Alberta’s agriculture. It is the responsibility of the property owner or occupier to control and prevent further spread of these noxious weeds. To control, means to inhibit the growth or spread, and/or destroy. 

Prohibited noxious weeds are generally only found in small numbers in Alberta or not found at all. Early detection and rapid response help prevent these weeds from becoming established in the province. It is the responsibility of the landowner or occupier to destroy these weeds. To destroy, means to kill all growing parts of the weed and to render the reproductive mechanisms of the weed non-viable.

There are 75 regulated weeds in the province of Alberta, 46 of which are prohibited noxious and 29 are noxious. For a full list of these regulated weeds, you can find them in the Weed Control Regulation, or by visiting the following link:

Provincially regulated weeds | Alberta.ca

To learn more about the Weed Control Act or Weed Control Regulation, please contact the Agricultural and Environmental Department or visit the following link:

Manual (gov.ab.ca)

Common Tansy

Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial plant that was brought over as an ornamental from Europe. It is mildly toxic to humans and wildlife if consumed. You can identify these plants by their button-like yellow flowerheads that form dense clusters of 20-100 on the stem ends. Leaves have alternate arrangement; they are consistent in size and have deeply toothed margins giving it a fern-like appearance. These leaves will have a strong odour when crushed. Stems are often purplish-red, erect and woody. They can also be identified by their old woody skeletons from previous years. These plants prefer areas with full-sun and well-drained soil. You often see them roadside and along riparian areas. These plants can be upwards of 1.8 m tall and reproduce by seed and creeping roots. Common Tansy can produce up to 50,000 seeds which remain viable for up to 25 years. These plants can be controlled by cutting, mowing and herbicide application.

Creeping Bellflower

Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) is a creeping perennial that was introduced as an ornamental from Europe. You can identify these plants by their purple-blue, bell-shape flowers that have 5 fused petals, 5 green sepals and nodding flowers. The leaves are alternatively arranged and have a wide range in leaf variability but will generally be heart shaped with jagged edges. Often confused with the native Bluebells, the Creeping Bellflower is usually much taller, upwards of 100 cm, has larger flowers and creeping roots.  The Creeping Bellflower is a common lawn weed and is difficult to eradicate because it can reproduce by seed and aggressive thick creeping rhizomes. These plants can produce up to 15,000 seeds per plant! The best control methods include hand-pulling, digging, and smothering with tarps or cardboard.  

Yellow Toadflax

Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) is a perennial, belongs to the Snapdragon family, native to Europe and is also known as butter-and-eggs! You can identify this plant by its yellow flowers that are attached by short stalks and the lower lip has an orange, fuzzy spot. The flowers are arranged in a dense cluster, or terminal raceme. The leaves are very narrow, alternate arrangement, pointed at each end and attached directly to the stem without clasping. These plants can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions and have an extensive creeping root system. They can also reproduce up to 5,000 seeds per plant! Repeated hand pulling is an easy control method for these woody, rhizomatous roots that may grow several meters long, herbicides work as well. Before this plant has flowered it is often confused with leafy spurge, however, this plant lacks the milky latex when broken apart!

Field Bindweed

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is also known as devil’s vine or wild morning glory. It is a perennial that is native to Africa, Asia and Europe. When it comes to reproduction, it can spread by seeds and creeping roots. The flowers are funnel shaped, white to pinkish in colour and about 2.5 cm in diameter. The flowers bloom in the summer and close when it is dark, raining or overcast. The leaves are dark green, arrowhead shaped and are alternately arranged on the vine-like stem. These plants have a deep taproot with extensive creeping roots that are whitish in colour, fleshy and brittle. This plant produces 500 seeds per plant and is viable for up to 60 years!  Field Bindweed prefers disturbed areas, pastures, cultivated fields and roadsides and are highly adaptive. Frequent hand pulling, cultivation or herbicides is best before seed set. This plant is problematic because it will host viruses that affect crops like tomatoes and potatoes and is mildly toxic to livestock. 

Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is a perennial that belongs to the Sunflower family and is native to Europe. You can spot these daisies by their yellow centered flowers that have 20-30 white petals located at the branch ends. The lower leaves are spoon-shaped and arranged alternately on the stems. The lower leaves are also lobed or have toothed edges and long leaf stalks whereas the upper leaves are narrow and clasped to the stem. The roots are short and fibrous making hand pulling an easy control method, but you want to make sure you dig the entire plant, removing the creeping, fibrous roots, and rhizomes to avoid regeneration. These plants tolerate a wide range of conditions and can be found almost anywhere. Buyer beware! This plant is often mixed into wildflower seed mixes! 

Common Mullein

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) also known as Cowboy’s toilet paper due to its large, and very soft, felt-like leaves. This plant can be easily identified in its basal rosette stage or its erect flowering stem in the second stage of growth. The stems are woody and can grow up to 2.5 m tall, have a candle-stick appearance with 5-petaled, yellow flowers. This is a biennial plant in the Figwort/ Snapdragon family, native to Europe. This plant was used as a fish poison and brought over as a medicinal plant to treat an array of ailments but unfortunately has proven to displace native vegetation and overtake disturbed areas. Also, this plant is thought to serve as an alternate host for insects that negatively affect pears and apples.  

Common Mullein can produce up to 250,000 seeds per plant. The seeds generally don’t spread far from the plant but are viable for over 100 years making eradication difficult once established in an area. You can hand pull the entire plant but if there are flowers or seeds present you will want to bag and burn the flowered stems. The rosettes are easy to hand pull and can be controlled with herbicides.  

For large Common Mullein infestations, please contact the Agriculture and Environmental department to learn more about how to control this invasive weed! 

Common Burdock

Common Burdock (Arctium minus) was the inspiration for Velcro by George de Mestral in the 1940’s. It’s prickly seed heads spread by sticking to anyone or any animal that brushes up against it. These burrs may be great for inspiring Velcro but are an issue for small birds and bats when they become entangled. These burrs are not only difficult to deal with for small animals but also for horses and sheep when the burrs become trapped in their manes and de-value the sheep’s wool.  Common burdock has large leaves that can prevent sunlight and water to reach other plants, so you don’t typically get other plants growing near a burdock infestation. It is a biennial plant in the sunflower family, native to Eurasia and if often found in areas where the soil has not been disturbed. It prefers farmland, pastures, barnyards, fence rows, stream banks and forest open areas, edges, and understories.  

Often confused with Great Burdock and Wooly burdock, it can be differentiated by the size of the flowers and burrs, although, all three of these burdock species are regulated as noxious weeds in Alberta. Seed production begins in July and continues in the autumn spreading up to 16,000 seeds per plant.

You can treat this plant with herbicides, hand-pulling, digging, or cultivating prior to seed set. It tolerates a range of soil conditions and prefers full to partial sun.

Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense) is a perennial plant that made its way to Canada through contaminated crop seed from Eurasia. It develops a rosette in its first year then reproduces through deep, spreading roots and by dispersing seeds that can remain viable for 21 years.  

This plant belongs to the Sunflower family and produces a purple- pink flower and has bracts with no spines. The leaves are glossy, alternately arranged, spine-tipped and stalkless with wavy edges. The stems are erect with prickly spines and can be slightly hairy. The Canada Thistle can grow up to 120 cm tall and is supported by creeping roots that can spread 4.5 m wide and 6 meters deep! This is the only thistle that has both male and female flowers.

You can find Canada Thistle just about anywhere in the province of Alberta. They are drought resistant and thrive in a variety of soil types in disturbed areas, crop and pasturelands, grasslands, stream banks and urban areas. This weed is problematic because it outcompetes vegetation causing severe crop-yield losses, reduces access and nesting cover for waterfowl.  Repeated cultivation, mowing, or hand-cutting reduces infestations and can eventually eliminate the plant.

Blueweed

Blueweed (Echium vulgare) is a biennial in the Boraginaceae family. If you live in the Crowsnest Pass you have probably seen this noxious plant before! Blueweed is unpalatable to grazers and is potentially poisonous due to toxic alkaloids.  

This invasive weed has numerous funnel shaped flowers, often purplish-blue in colour but can also be pink or white. The entire plant is covered in bristly hairs that can cause skin irritation, so be sure to wear gloves when handling this noxious weed. In its first year it produces a basal rosette that radiates from the center point. Flowering stalks grow from the rosette producing flowers in the upper side of short, arching branches. The black taproot has some fibrous lateral roots and can be difficult to remove. Blueweed prefers growing in dry, rocky areas, gravelly riparian areas, roadside, pastures, and meadows at mid to low elevations. It requires well drained soils and does not tolerate shade very well. If you are removing Blueweed rosettes from your yard, the best way is to try and remove majority of the root or sever below the soil line when the soil is moist. If any portion of the plant has flowered or has seed heads formed, carefully remove and bag. Blueweed reproduces by seed which can spread by water, heavy machinery and vehicles, animals, infested gravel, or by use of commercial seed and hay. Do not place lawn trimmings in compost if they may contain blueweed seeds. For any additional information on how to treat Blueweed, please contact the Agriculture and Environmental department.