The District of Muskoka has a plan to combat invasive species.

The three main culprits are Phragmites, Japanese Knotweed, and the Hogweed.

Hogweed has gained a lot of attention for the burns it causes when human skin meets the sap of the plant. That sap removes any UV protection from the skin, resulting in direct contact from the sun, causing severe burns.

The District has set aside $75,000 in the maintenance budget and conducted a survey of problem plants along District maintained roads. They found 162 Phragmites infestations. Phragmites is an invasive grass that outcompetes the local grass and leaves behind a toxin that kills other plants and grass trying to grow in the area.

Also identified were 66 instances of Japanese Knotweed. A plant introduced from South East Asia as an ornamental species in the 1800’s, it quickly spread through North America. Its root system can spread up to 10 metres from the parent plant and grow through concrete and asphalt. It also chokes out other plants and grasses in the area.

There were also 10 Giant Hogweed infestations discovered.

“The number of Giant Hogweed infestations is relatively small compared to the other species and they do not appear to be widespread across the District at this time,” writes Fred Jahn in a written response to questions from the My Muskoka Now newsroom.

The District of Muskoka works with the various municipalities on strategies to control invasive species.

The tracking of invasive species with the survey system is relatively new, so Jahn was unable to specify if the problem is increasing in the District but says “anyone who can recognize Phragmites or Japanese Knotweed would recognize that those infestations are increasing in size over time.”