Young plants of Common hogweed/Cow Parsnip (Heracleum spondylium) are being spot treated with a Total Droplet Control glyphosate formulation which is applied with a wand.
The Environment Department is treating the Common hogweed/Cow Parsnip as a trial for this season to reduce the numbers close to the paths following skin irritation and blisters caused to some walkers who took part in the Saffery Champness Rotary Walk last June. Early rainfall on the morning of the walk combined with the plant sap which affected some walkers when they brushed against it. For people with sensitive skin the problem was exacerbated by the bright sunlight that day.
States Works cliff path team will be undertaking the work and trials have been very satisfactory. The herbicide is applied as a thickened solution and the electronic wand allows the operator to place it with great accuracy on the individual selected plants. The solution incorporates a small quantity of white emulsion paint which can be seen as small speckles on the plant, which enable operators to identify treated plants. The plant is killed through to the root and there is no residual build-up of herbicide in the soil. Used as directed the product is very unlikely to harm humans, domestic animals or wildlife.
The manner of application of minimal amounts of herbicide to specific plants means that this is a cost-effective form of control and enables assurance that other plants along the cliff paths are not affected by spray drift or run-off.
A proportion of Alexanders (Smyrnium olustratrum) along the cliff paths are also being treated with the herbicide. The plant has no injurious effect on humans but its numbers have greatly increased around the coast in recent years due to the wet and mild weather. Reducing the large number of Alexanders in some areas will allow other more interesting maritime plants and flowers to re-establish.
The cliff path cutting schedule will commence during April.