S.O.S. for help in battle to kill off moor invaders

skunk cabbage
skunk cabbage

RANGERS from Mugdock Country Park have been called in to tackle alien invaders on Barloch Moor in Milngavie.

They are going to remove the Skunk Cabbage because it is beginning to take over the area and they are looking for volunteers to help them on May 14 when they start the project.

Volunteers will be pulling up the plants by the roots to ensure they can’t grow again and it will probably take a few attempts to get rid of it all.

The full name for the invasive plant, which has large yellow flowers which resemble lilies is Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), and it is found in swamps and wet woods and along streams in the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to California.

First introduced to the UK in 1901 as an ornamental plant, the first records of it in the wild come from Surrey in 1947 and the species has seen steady growth in sites throughout the UK since. It has a distinctive “skunky” odour to attract its pollinators, scavenging flies and beetles.

Skunk Cabbage can get very old, over 80 years, and it builds a dense population with cabbage-like leaves which spread up to 80cm in diameter during the height of summer, excluding sunlight from native wetland plants which are not adapted to extreme darkness.

The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) spent a day in Barloch Moor recently to remove some of the plants in the stream area behind Glasgow Academy Atholl. To stop the roots from regrowing, the plants have been hung in tree branches to allow the roots to dry out and die.

Stuart Macfarlane a Ranger at Mugdock Country Park, said: “The seeds travel along the Allander river and the plant has begun to appear all along the banks as far away as Dobbies garden centre.

“It is a non-native invasive species and nothing else can grow. If it’s allowed to take over it will inhibit the biodiversity of the area.

“It’s not possible to just take away some of it as it just re-plants itself again and smothers everything else around it.”

Milngavie resident Robin Brown supports the removal of the Skunk Cabbage. He said: “It can grow to about 4ft and has a horrible smell.

“The moor is an important amenity for people in the area, many people like to walk there. “I’d also like to see something being done about the Japanese Knotweed as it’s invasive.

“The moor receives minimal maintenance now, paths are overgrown and narrow, trees are not managed, fallen branches are not removed, grass is cut infrequently, and litter and broken glass is only picked up occasionally, generally by local residents.

“Something should be done to improve the situation.”