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Invading alien rampant across 1/3 of mainland
By Ma Chenguang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-27 05:50

Local governments and residents are going all out to eradicate Canada Goldenrod an invasive alien plant that has taken root in almost one-third of the nation's mainland regions.

Brought to the mainland in 1935, the plant, Latin name Solidago Canadensis, has attractive bright yellow flowers. Once allowed to shed its seeds in an open space, Canada Goldenrod spreads like wildfire.

Unfortunately for other species, its rampant growth is endangering 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 to clear the plant last March, but it is still thriving in foothills, meadows, roadsides and woodland clearings in Shanghai and 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 are being told to 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 flowering, said an environmentalist surnamed Ye in Hangzhou, who suggested people cut the head of the plant off before pulling it up by the roots, drying it in the sun and burning it. An expert writing in Jiangsu's Zhangjiagang Daily recommended using herbicides to kill young seedlings.

In Anhui, the plant has spread from 67 hectares last year to 335 hectares this 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 alien invader spreading to farmland.

According to CCTV reports, more than 400 types of harmful alien 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 alien plants is at an early stage. It would be unscientific to rush to a quick conclusion labelling an alien plant as "mere good or bad," Zhao said.

(China Daily 10/27/2005 page3)

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