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Exotic Plant Spreads Across a Third of Mainland

Local governments and residents are going all out to eradicate Canada Goldenrod, an exotic plant turned pest that has taken root in almost a third of the nation's mainland.


Brought to the mainland in 1935, the plant, called Solidago Canadensis in Latin, has attractive bright yellow flowers.


This is a highly reproductive period for the plant.


Unfortunately for other species, its rampant growth is endangering indigenous grasses, shrubs, trees and crops across about 10 regions, the State Forestry Administration's Wang Xiaohua told China Daily yesterday.


The forestry administration suggested a nationwide drive last March to get rid of the plant, but it is still thriving in foothills, meadows, roadsides and woodland clearings in Shanghai and the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Yunnan, the Beijing Youth Daily reported yesterday.


In Zhejiang Province, it is spreading towards the world-renowned West Lake in the provincial capital Hangzhou.


In the report, plant expert Qian Jun is quoted as saying that grass areas around the lake are in danger of being completely taken over by Goldenrod. A single stalk of the plant can produce more than 20,000 seeds.


Local government staff and residents have been asked to help get rid of the plant "from the root."


According to China Central Television (CCTV) reports, the plant which flowers between late summer and autumn covers some 2,000 hectares in the city of Ningbo alone. Orange harvests in the city's Chunwu Township have dipped as a result of the invasion.


The best time to eliminate the plant is during the flowering stage, said an environmentalist surnamed Ye in Hangzhou, who suggested that people cut off the head of the plant, uproot it, dry it in the sun and burn it.


An expert writing in Jiangsu's Zhangjiagang Daily recommended using herbicides to kill young seedlings.


In Anhui, the plant now covers 335 hectares of land as compared to 67 hectares last year, said He Jiaqing, a professor at Anhui University. An official surnamed Huang from the province's agricultural commission said the focus now is to prevent the plant from spreading to farmland.


According to CCTV reports, more than 400 types of harmful exotic plants are causing annual losses of more than 57.4 billion yuan (US$7.1 billion) to the country's agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery industries.


Zhao Wenxia, an associate research fellow from the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Forestry, told China Daily that the country's research into exotic plants is still undeveloped. It would be unscientific to jump to the conclusion that an exotic plant is either "good or bad," Zhao said.




(China Daily October 27, 2005)

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