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Invasive Plants

Invasive Plant Infestation

What are invasive plants?

Invasive plants are non-native plants that grow out of control in parks, gardens and other green spaces. Most of these plants were introduced because they look nice and grow easily, making them popular garden plants. In their natural habitat, what we consider invasive plants have predators and competitors that keep them manageable. However, in new places with no natural controls, invasive plants escape gardens and grow unchecked in natural areas.

How do invasive plants spread?

  • Seeds: Many invasive plants are very good at spreading their own seeds. For example, Policeman's helmet can fling its seeds up to 7 metres (23 feet)!
  • Growth: They creep into natural areas from other properties, growing over, under and even through anything in their path. English ivy can spread up to 4.5 metres (14 feet) in one year.
  • Waste: Invasive plants are tough and can keep growing from even the smallest parts of the plant. Dumping garden clippings in natural areas is a sure way to spread these unwanted plants, and it's against the law.

Why are invasive plants a problem?

Invasive plants have lasting economic, social, and environmental consequences, such as:

  • Lower habitat value for local wildlife as the native plants they depend on for food and shelter are displaced by invasive ones.
  • Changed landscapes. Every native plant serves an important purpose in nature, and as invasive plants take over, natural areas may not function properly.  Invasive plants may reduce shade and shelter, weaken soil stability, and alter the movements of wind and water.
  • Increased exotic pests and plant diseases (like black garden slugs).
  • Reduced recreational value as invasive plants reduce the natural beauty and decrease the variety of plants and animals.
  • Reduced crop yield by an estimated $50 million annually in BC.
  • Increased cost to the City of Surrey (tax dollars) to restore parks affected by invasive plants.

How can you help?

  • Properly dispose of your garden clippings, hanging baskets, and other yard waste. It can be placed in your green organics bin for curbside pickup to be properly composted.
  • Learn how to identify Surrey's common invasive plants (see photo gallery below).
  • Avoid using invasive plants or contain them in pots to prevent their spread.
  • Volunteer to remove invasive plants in your neighbourhood park.

Learn more about invasive plants:

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed is an invasive plant that can cause considerable injury to people and is a serious threat to natural ecosystems. It can reach a height of 4.5 metres and has large blossoms of numerous white flowers clustered in an umbrella-shaped head that is more than 60 cm across. Have you seen Giant Hogweed growing in your yard, local park or neighbourhood? (See the second image in the photo gallery below.) Please read this memo from WorkSafeBC before attempting to remove it.

Avoid direct contact with the plant as the sap and stem hairs cause a serious skin inflammation activated by exposure to the sun. If you are exposed to Giant Hogweed sap:

  • Wash affected areas immediately
  • Keep affected areas out of the sun
  • Seek medical advice for burns

To report this plant along City of Surrey roads, boulevards, ditches and in park land, please call the Parks service request line at 604-501-5050.

View a selection of commonly found invasive plants in Surrey: