San Diego County has received a two-year grant of $53,966 from the state Department of Food and Agriculture to contain an invasive weed species, county officials announced Wednesday.
Ward’s weed has been found in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Otay Mesa and Camp Pendleton, in the only known infestations in North America, according to county officials. The weed is native to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia and threatens local fragile plant species and habitats by dispersing thousands of seeds.
The weed has damaged rangelands in Australia and causes a fire hazard once it dies each year, becoming a dry carcass similar to a tumbleweed. According to Australian officials, livestock won’t even eat it due to its texture and off-putting smell.
“These plants add a lot of pressure on native habitats, displacing or crowding out other plants and affecting the fitness of the habitat,” said Jason Giessow, an ecologist with Dendra Inc., a contractor working with the county’s Agriculture, Weights and Measures Department, which has been working since 2015 to control Ward’s weed across dozens of acres around the county using funds from the San Diego Association of Governments.
The weed is difficult to control because it grows entwined with nearby plants.
“It sprouts and sets seeds in multiple rounds in a given year,” Giessow said. “It’s almost impossible to stay on top of it. It grows and sets seeds too quickly.”
Residents can help the county quell the bristly, yellow- or white- flowered weed by reporting its location to the county. The Agriculture, Weights and Measures Department can be reached at 858-614-7750 or IPC.AWM@sdcounty.ca.gov.
–City News Service
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