Killer plant at large in Athy

Steps are being taken to combat one of the world’s worst invasive plants, growing in parts of Athy.

Steps are being taken to combat one of the world’s worst invasive plants, growing in parts of Athy.

Cllrs John Lawler and Mark Dalton put forward a motion before Athy Town Council last week, asking that the Council “tackle the problem of Japanese knotweed in Athy”.

Speaking to the Leinster Leader, Cllr Dalton said: “We had a correspondence from pupils in a local secondary school about it.” He said the weed is growing “in certain areas” in the town, including close to building sites.

“We have asked the engineering department to investigate and we will meet with the school principal.”

Japanese knotweed is listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species, a list made up of both plants and animals compiled by the Global Invasive Species Database.

“It can have a detrimental effect as it grows very quickly,” said Cllr Dalton. “It can choke off other plant life.”

According to invasivespeciesireland.com, Japanese knotweed was introduced as an ornamental plant in the 19th century. It can grow up to two to three metres in height and can “dominate an area to the exclusion of most other plants”.

Its roots, or rhizomes, can form an extensive network and they must be removed in full.

The website also says the plant “has the ability to grow through tarmac and concrete (in some cases within dwellings) and therefore must be cleared completely before starting to build or lay roads”.

- Liam Godinho