Weed inspector to eradicate poisonous water hemlock near Kenton

Water hemlock, a poisonous plant, is showing up at the Kenton Dam beach and in waterways nearby. Tyler Pateman, the weed inspector for the RM of Wallace-Woodworth municipality, brought the matter before the municipal council meeting of Aug. 25, where plans were discussed regarding the weed’s eradication.

Pateman told council that on July 22 a member of the public informed him about water hemlock at Kenton Dam. He took action to positively identify the hemlock.

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“I checked it out. There were five plants. They were right on the beach area. That is a concern with the public and little kids being there.”

A tour of a two-mile radius yielded more sightings of the weed, “You could see there was a lot of weed development in shallow areas.”

The weed has a kinder, gentler twin sister known as cow parsley, which grows widely but is harmless. The main differences are cow parsley (or water parsnip) has a narrower leaf and water hemlock has a slightly wider leaf. And the umbels of small white flowers have few or no bracts (special leaves under the flower head) while cow parsley does have bracts.

Water hemlock has not been common here but is deadly dangerous to grazing animals.For more info: http://cropchatter.com/managing-water-hemlock-in-hayland-and-pasture/

Pateman conferred with weed inspection colleagues and then sent six samples to Manitoba Crop Diagnostic Services. Four of the samples were identified as water water hemlock and twowere cow parsley.

He says there’s a heavy infestation of the plants on private property as well as in waterways flowing to the Kenton Dam. “With those weeds growing in shallow waterways its quite a concern. It’s hard to get there.”

Reeve Clayton Canart asked how the plant spreads and how dangerous it is to people. Pateman said the plant is poisonous. It spreads via seeds and each plant can produce 40,000 seeds. Most plants have not yet set seed.

Councillor Mark Humphries was familiar with the plant where he lived in the UK.“We used to top it. If you keep on cutting it… grass tends to take over.”

Pateman concluded that in the fall he could “spot spray in the ditches, wherever there’s culverts, you will see they start to build up.” He plans to monitor the dam where the general public are, making sure those weeds are suppressed at all times.

Chief Administrator Garth Mitchell noted, “This will be a multi-year project that we need to document. It’s going to take a long time to eradicate it.” Council suggested signage for the beach area to make people aware of the weed.

Children often play with plants, making whips or whistles out of them. Pateman says that water hemlock should not even be touched.

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