Virginia Lawmakers Take Action On Noxious Weeds: English Ivy Doesn’t Make It Onto List of Targeted Plants

Virginia Invasive Species Working Group opened the public comment period on a proposed regulation to combat the spread of certain noxious weeds that have not yet taken hold in the state.

These weeds include:
Beach vitex
Giant salvania
Tropical soda apple
Giant Hogweed
Wavyleaf basketgrass
Cogongrass (except for cultivar Imperata cylindrical “Red Baron”)
Purple Loosestrife

Since 2012, TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria have been engaged in a high-profile campaign to encourage homeowners to pull ivy from their properties due to the damage and harm the widespread and invasive vine inflicts on trees.

Volunteers work hard to save our parks and forests from English Ivy

Volunteers work hard to save our parks and forests from English Ivy

In the past year, volunteer TreeStewards have removed ivy from the trunks of more than 2,600 trees in Arlington and Alexandria. And they have and educated more than 1,000 homeowners on how ivy chokes a tree by growing up into its canopy, shading out sunlight, depriving the tree of its food source and eventually leading to the plant’s death.

“It is a problem. It can be controlled,” said Nora Palmatier, president of TreeStewards, who urges TreeStewards and other concerned members of the community to write to the state legislature to urge the inclusion of other invasive, non-native plants in the new rule.

English ivy was not included on the list because the working group’s mandate was to “identify non-native invasive plants that are not widely disseminated in Virginia and can either be eradicated completely or suppressed and controlled.”

Critics of the proposed law, however, say that the only plants allowed on the list were those that “are not sold by nurseries.”

“This is an absolutely noncontroversial list,” said one person close to the lengthy negotiations that led to the legislative proposal.

English ivy is an easy crop to grow and generates substantial revenues for many wholesale growers and retail nurseries throughout the state.

“The political reality is that this is the best we can hope for,” said another person who also was involved and has spent years battling the spread of invasive plants like English ivy, porcelainberry and Oriental bittersweet throughout the region.

Neither of these plant pests made it onto the list.

The public comment period on the proposed rule, entitled Regulations for Enforcement of the Noxious Weed Law, ends on Sept. 13.

A public hearing will also be conducted on the proposed regulation on July 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm, at a meeting of the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services at the Virginia Horse Center. The address is 487 Maury River Road, Lexington, Virginia.

Submit online comments to:
Comments may also be submitted by email to staff members of the commission:

Comments also may be sent to Erin Williams and Andres Alvarez by regular mail. The address is:
Division of Consumer Protection
102 Governor St.
Richmond, VA 23219.

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