Opinion

Alien species attacks forests

To the editor:

Daphne lareola, also known as Spurge laurel, looks nice but is rapidly becoming the scourge of the woods of Central Whidbey. It is very aggressive and protects itself with irritating toxins qualifying it for noxious weed status across Washington. This alien species was introduced as an ornamental.

Identification: A handsome, evergreen woody shrub which grows to five feet in height. Its leaves are dark green, arranged spirally around the stem.  Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers are arranged beneath the leaves next to the stem. It blooms in the late winter and early spring. Its blue-black berries are attractive to birds, which are responsible for its propagation.  It is flourishing in and around Coupeville and perhaps elsewhere.

Its potential for environmental harm is great. It can completely displace other understory plants like ferns, woodland flowers, salal, Oregon grape, etc., creating a monoculture.

Eradication: Wear gloves. Small plants can be pulled up. Larger plants must be cut at the base and treated with Glyphosate (Round-Up) directly applied to the stem with a sponge brush. Visit the WSU Extension Service office in Coupeville for the noxious weed booklet or call 360-679-7327 for more information.

If interested in participating in an organized eradication effort, call Gary Piazzon at 678-5131 or email piazzon@comcast.net.

Gary Piazzon

Coupeville

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