Skip to content. Accessibility info.

News Archives

Giant Hogweed and Other Invasive

Species on HRM Radar


(Wednesday, July 14) - Giant Hogweed, recently in the national news, is just one of several invasive species that the municipality is currently keeping an eye on. Others include Japanese Knotweed - on the list of top 100 invasive species in the world, and the European Fire Ant, currently causing problems around the province and municipality.

Brought to the Municipality’s attention in recent days, Giant Hogweed has now been spotted in several areas around HRM. Introduced to North America in the early 1900s as an ornamental garden plant, it was first identified in Nova Scotia in the 1980s. Direct contact with Giant Hogweed can cause both severe skin and eye problems - including possible blindness.

Considered a human health hazard, response to this plant will fall outside of HRM’s current pesticide bylaw. Appropriate action, says Richard MacLellan, Manager of HRM’s Sustainable Environment Management Office (SEMO), will occur once a plant is identified as being on HRM property.

An information bulletin for residents looking to identify Giant Hogweed can be found at: Residents worried they may have the plant should contact Marian Munro, at the Nova Scotia Museum, for confirmation (424-3564) and arrange for a professional landscaper to address the problem. HRM staff are currently consulting with other levels of government and stakeholders to determine Best Management Practices for this particular invasive species. Additional information will be posted to the HRM site as soon as it becomes available. 

Also on the radar of most HRM residents are the above mentioned fire ants. Staff continue to monitor the problem and research the best methods for avoiding, controlling or eliminating the ants. SEMO Staff are collaborating with a local Masters Student from Saint Mary’s University on the efficacy of different management measures. Most recently, the municipality purchased several dozen boric acid bait stations for trialing effectiveness on infestations located on HRM properties. 

The definition of an alien invasive species, according to HRM Environmental Performance Officer, Cameron Deacoff, is one which is not native to an area and will “out compete” existing native species. He also adds that not all alien (non-native) species become a problem, as was the case with fire ants until fairly recently. “These guys have been around for quite a while, and as to why they’re now posing a problem, that’s an unknown at this point.”

Three invasive species currently under management in Point Pleasant Park, and assumed to be located elsewhere around the municipality are the Japanese Knotweed, the Common Burdock, and the Himalayan Balsam. All three species of plants will aggressively push out Acadian forest plants and limit the biological diversity of the park unless controlled. A combination approach - including removal, cutting back, and pilot programs to restrict growth are currently underway in the park.

Invasive species - which include plants, animals, and insect life - are often introduced to an area by accident, says Deacoff. In addition, he says, are the many species which are deliberately introduced to an area - an example of which is the Norway Maple, first imported to North America in the mid-1700s.

The municipality has recently received approval from Regional Council to proceed with an action plan to identify and map out the location of invasive species around the municipality. Part of that plan will be a preliminary determination of the roles HRM’s federal and provincial counterparts will play in the development of any future policy.

The action plan, which HRM’s Sustainable Environment Management office is currently working on, is slated to be presented to Regional Council in the fall. If approved, policy development - in conjunction with federal and provincial partners, non-governmental organizations, and the community - will begin immediately, with a possible implementation start date of spring 2011.


                                                   - 30 -





Richard MacLellan, Manager

Sustainable Environment Management Office

Phone: (902) 490-6056



Above content last modified Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8:49am.