Mon, Sep 08, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Forestry Bureau volunteers clear tonnes of invader

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

About 2,000 people uprooted about 6 tonnes of clinging hemp vines (Mikania micrantha), a non-native invasive species, after the Forestry Bureau on Friday launched events across the nation targeting the weed.

The events were held at Yilan County’s Dingliao Ecological Park; Liyutan Dam in Miaoli County; Dongshih Forestry Cultural Park in Greater Taichung; Guosing Inn in Nantou County; Sinhua National Arboretum in Greater Tainan; and on Hualien County’s Meilun Mountain (美崙山).

Bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Ping (張彬) said the vine is among the most invasive of the weeds that damage native flora.

The bureau has worked to remove the vine since 2001, meeting with moderate success by reducing the area it affected by 74 percent, from 51,853 to 13,620 hectares, Chang said.

The Chiayi Forestry Office said that the plant has been named by the International Union for Conservation of Nature among “100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species,” a list compiled by the organization’s Invasive Species Specialist Group.

The weed enters its flowering stage every year from October to December and is extremely prolific — a trait that has earned it the nickname “mile-a-minute weed,” the office said.

With the ability to produce 170,000 seeds per square meter of vine, and with them being smaller and lighter compared with those from other plants, wind can easily disperse the seeds over extensive areas, it said.

Furthermore, each internode along the vine’s stem has the ability to take root, the office said, adding that the weed clings to other plants until it covers them completely, obstructing their ability to photosynthesize and eventually killing them.

Apart from teaching volunteers how to properly remove the weed, the bureau also showed them how the plant can be used to make natural dyes and organic compost after its reproductive system is removed.

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