Courtesy the Noxious Weed Control Board
A state board may add six plants to Washington’s noxious-weed list, including one that would be targeted for eradication before it creeps over the landscape.
The small-flowered jewelweed, native to parts of Asia but now thriving throughout Eastern and Western Europe, has been found growing in two places King County. The Noxious Weed Control Board will consider designating it a Class A weed, meaning all such plants must be destroyed.
“It just kind of showed up,” said Alison Halpern, the weed board’s executive secretary. “We have only two patches, and if we can get it eradicated, it won’t gain a foothold and spread.”
The board annually adds — and in rare cases subtracts — plants to the state’s noxious weed list. The list currently includes 148 plants, including 36 Class A weeds. County weed boards maintain their own lists, too.
The state board also will consider adding two weeds to the Class B list. Landowners are required to prevent Class B weeds from propagating. Another three weeds are candidates for the Class C list. Property owners are encouraged but not required to control Class C weeds.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service estimates the small-flowered jewelweed could take root in 84 percent of the U.S., though not in the driest parts of Central Washington.
Hundreds of the plants were found growing in 2013 in a wooded ravine in Portland. In 2016, more than 1,000 plants were found growing along a rural road in northeast King County, according to a report by the state weed control board. Previously, a patch was found along a service road near the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
The state surveyed about 400 Washington nurseries, and none reported selling small-flowered jewelweed, Halpern said.
Other candidates for the noxious-weed list are:
• European coltsfoot as a Class B weed. The plant is a problem for Scandinavian farmers, according to the weed board. Small infestations have been found in King and Snohomish counties, and in Mount Rainier National Park. The order to control the weed wouldn’t apply to Grant, Lincoln, Adams, Benton and Franklin counties because the chances the plant will take hold in those places are slight.
• Malta starthistle as a Class B weed. The plant was recently found on Cypress Island in Skagit County. The listing would match the restrictions put on the yellow starthistle. Control would be mandatory in the state, but not in some Eastern Washington counties, where the yellow starthistle is already widespread.
• Cheatgrass as a Class C weed. The highly invasive annual grass fuels wildfires. Halpern said putting cheatgrass on the state list should make private and public landowners more aware of the problem.
• Spotted jewelweed as a Class C weed. The wetland species is native to the Eastern U.S., but appears to be rapidly establishing itself in Western Washington, according to the weed control board.
• Eurasian watermilfoil as a Class C weed. The plant is a cross between an invasive and a native species. The result is an aggressive plant resistant to herbicide.
The board also will consider reclassifying several weeds, including spurge flax. The plant is a Class A weed, but it’s become too widespread in Okanogan County to make eradication a reasonable requirement, according to the weed board staff. The board may reclassify the plant as a Class B weed.
The board will take written comments until Oct. 30. Comments may be mailed to P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, WA 98504-2560, or sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The board will have a public hearing 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the Wenatchee Convention Center, 201 N. Wenatchee Ave.
The board is scheduled to meet the next day at the convention center to vote on the proposal.