The government of Alberta put in place a new weed act in June of 2010.
The new act is an improvement on the old one making it easier for the weed inspectors to do their job which is to ensure that invasive plants do not move from one area to another.
Weeds are now classified as prohibited noxious weeds, and noxious weeds as opposed to restricted, noxious and nuisance.
Weed inspectors have the right to go on private land to look for prohibited noxious weeds. If weeds in this category are found a weed notice will be either hand delivered to the landowner or posted on the property. The landowner is responsible for making sure the offending plants are destroyed in a timely manner.
It took time and commitment from people through out Alberta to examine all the “weeds” and narrow the list from the original 350 plants to the end result of 75; 46 prohibited noxious, 29 noxious and more that are presently on a watch list. All of these plants spread aggressively into farmland and native habitat. None of them are native to Alberta.
The 46 prohibited noxious weeds are ones that have become a problem in bordering provinces or states. There are pockets of their problem weeds in Alberta but they can still be controlled or eradicated as they are not throughout the region. If landowners are vigilant and remove them when they are found they may never become a problem.
Noxious weeds are ones that are already a problem in many areas of the province. It is the landowner’s responsibility to ensure that these weeds are not allowed to spread on their land and on to their neighbors.
All the prohibited noxious or noxious weeds have been introduced into Alberta and North America. Some came over as food plants or herbs when people emigrated.
Others came as seeds that hitched a ride without the carrier being aware of their presence.
The last group of plants is escaped ornamentals. They were introduced through horticultural research stations, garden centres and landscape companies as new hardy plants. At the time they were introduced their potential to invade crops and native areas was not known.
Often as in the case of purple loosestrife, the original introductions were not a problem but the seeds of each generation became more viable and prolific.
Once ornamentals escape cultivation they invade natural areas and crop land they are a problem.
The economic impact that weeds have on farmland is staggering. They reduce the yields of the crops. They diminish the acreage where animals graze and on occasion poison animals. This being the case, one would think that being able to purchase noxious weeds would be a thing of the past.
Not so. It is still possible to purchase a number of the prohibited noxious weeds in the form of plants or seed from Canadian mail order companies. The plants in question are still sold as ornamentals or herbs.
The companies in question are not being malicious; the plants in questions have herbal value. It is up to the consumer to know what they are purchasing.
This same catalogue sells seeds, plants and dried roots from garden weeds such as stinging nettle, dandelion and lambs quarters.
These plants do have value as herbs but do you want to introduce them to your yard?
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org