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Eradication efforts underway after highly invasive ‘devil weed’ found on Hawaii Island

A highly invasive plant from tropical areas in the Americas was found on the Big Island for the...
A highly invasive plant from tropical areas in the Americas was found on the Big Island for the first time.(Big Island Invasive Species Committee)
Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 6:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A highly invasive plant known as the “devil weed” has been found on Hawaii Island for the first time.

The Big Island Invasive Species Committee confirmed the presence of chromolaena odorata near the Hilo motocross track and two places in Puna. Prior to this discovery, devil weed has also been found in areas on Oahu.

The invasive plant is known as “devil weed” for its pitchfork-shaped leaf pattern.

The group said the plant is listed as a “noxious weed” in the state and is classified as one of the world’s worst invasive species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Environmentalists said the weed can grow up to six feet, creating a dense thicket and can harm surrounding native species.

The plant is also toxic to livestock and has caused severe damage to ranchers and farmers in pastures that have been invaded by the weed.

BIISC also warns it could also pose as a fire hazard, especially in dry areas.

Following the discovery of the weed near the motocross track, officials urge riders and ATV users to be on high alert to ensure they do not spread the plant’s seeds.

Officials said the seeds are not very noticeable, and could easily cling to hats, gloves, bags or other material, as well as in mud on tires.

Hawaii County’s Department of Research and Development is funding BIISC to assist with detection and eradication efforts, including support for use of a dog detector to locate the weeds in larger areas.

BIISC recommends that residents do not attempt to remove the weed themselves but instead report it immediately.

Photos can be emailed to biisc@hawaii.edu or sent via Facebook or Instagram to Big Island Invasive Species Committee.

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