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The Weed Warrior: Beware the Devil’s Paintbrush

Orange Hawkweed has a nasty reputation for taking over roadsides, pastures and shady forested areas

The Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) tells us that we have eight native Hawkweeds, and 14 invasive Hawkweeds brought here from Europe.

Orange Hawkweed — aka Fox-and-cubs or the Devil’s Paintbrush in England — has the worst reputation for taking over roadsides, pastures and shady forested areas, even though Yellow Hawkweeds are more common in the East Kootenay.

Orange Hawkweed has between five and 30 orange dandelion-like flowers on the end of each long hairy stem. The hairy leaves form a flat rosette at the base of the stem.

Hawkweeds can spread by their parachute seeds, above-ground stolons, roots, or root nodes. And, a patch of them can soon become almost impossible to get rid of.

So, the best way to avoid a Hawkweed problem is not to buy any from your local garden center.

Otherwise, if you find an invasive Orange or Yellow Hawkweed plant near your property, garbage the long floret topped stem and douse the leaves with Killex.

The ISCBC Grow-me-Instead (GMI) booklet lists six flowering plants that are well behaved garden alternatives to Hawkweeds: Arkwright’s Campion, Pinks and Carnations, Alpine Aster, Heart-leaved Arnica and Blanket Flower.

The GMI booklet informs us that Arkwright Campion is:”A hardy self-seeding annual or short-lived perennial about 45 cm tall with clusters of large, brilliant orange flowers above bronze foliage in early summer. It does well in sun or part shade in moist, well-drained soil.”

“Perennial carnations and Pinks are Zone 4 plants that require full sun, good drainage and lime-rich soil. Most produce low mounds of blue-green evergreen leaves.”

“Alpine Aster is a Zone 3 BC native that live on limestone soils.

“Heart-leaved Arnica is also a Zone 3 BC native that does well under sunny or partial shade conditions.” It grows abundantly along the shaded walking trails of the Gold Creek forest.

“A 3rd Zone 3 BC native, Blanket Flower, is native to dry land areas of North America and prospers from June until autumn in sunny, well drained soil.”

Weed Warrior Frank

Photos below, top to bottom: Arkwright’s Campion, Carnations, Alpine Aster, Blanket Flowers, Heart-shaped Arnica