Weed Warrior: Blueweed – One of the biggest and baddest

Pictured above: Blueweed. Below: Penstemon, Woodland Sage

Blue Weed (aka Blue Devil, Blue-Thistle, Viper’s Bugloss) is one of Regional District of East Kootenay’s two Baddest Weeds

I wrote Weed Warrior Articles about Blueweed in 2017 and 2018. Now, here’s another one. Blueweed, and its Noxious Best Buddy, Spotted Knapweed, account for about 70 per cent of the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council’s weed whacking budget, leaving a mere 30 per cent to spend on controlling the numerous other non-native plants invading our region.

So, on Sunday, July 7, when I took a dozen other Rocky Mountain Naturalists to the Fernie Ski Hill to participate in Nature Bob Livesey’s Fossil Hike, you can imagine how thrilled I was to see Blueweed in flower along both sides of the highway between Galloway and Elko, where its seeds can hitch a ride on all the vehicle and animal traffic.

What’s wrong with a little Blueweed in the ditch you might ask? Well, if you think a spiny plant whose alkaloids are toxic to cows, horses and humans is no big deal, maybe you are part of the problem.

Blueweed and Spotted Knapweed are tap-rooted weeds that can be easily dealt with using a digging tool like a screwdriver and appropriate gloves when they first arrive, but ignore them until after they have gone to seed, and you have a decades-long problem in your neighbourhood.

But enough with the rant, Frank, let’s focus on the well behaved Grow-me-Insteads.

Lupines are native to the RDEK and the USDA says their many varieties flower from mid-spring till mid-summer and the tall, fragrant, showy blossoms of these medicinal plants provide pollen and nectar to bumblebees, native bees and hummingbirds.

Blue Hyssop, according to www.highcountrygardens.com, is another medicinal, aromatic, blue-flowered plant that will attract pollinators in mid-summer.

Mygardenlife.com tells us Woodland Sage is a “ground-hugging mound of green foliage that makes a perfect backdrop for its spires of dainty blue, pink or white blooms” from summer till autumn.

Penstemons offer hundreds of species from dwarf alpine plants to five-footers. According to gardenista.com, hummingbirds love perennial Penstemon’s deep, nectar-rich, tubular, long-blooming flowers.

Finally, the flowerexpert.com says Larkspur’s densely-packed flowers on its tall stem are fragile and short-lived in the vase, so why the Invasive Species Council of BC recommends this toxic plant that only domestic sheep can stomach puzzles me.

Let’s not Grow-Larkspur-instead, because with the four other gorgeous choices offered, do we need a poisonous lurker in our communities.

Weed Warrior Frank

 

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