In the Catalan mountains, the fight is organized against the Giant Hogweed, a giant glider, invasive and dangerous for humans

It is one of the 20 species of invasive plants identified by the National Botanical Conservatory of Porquerolles in the territory of the Regional Natural Park of the Catalan Pyrenees. Her name ? Hogweed, a giant herb from the carrot or celery family, has established itself in Cerdagne via the Grand Hôtel de Font-Romeu.

In Cerdagne, the Hogweed takes its ease. Like a number of plant or animal species imported by humans, intentionally or not, outside its original distribution area, this giant umbellifer measuring 2 to 5 meters has adapted to its new natural environment.

But how did this plant from Georgia make its appearance in the Catalan mountains? Introduced in Western Europe for the ornament of gardens in the 19th century, it was planted in the gardens of the Grand Hôtel de Font-Romeu between the two wars.

The largest known colony is that of the Hermitage under the Col du calvaire at the exit of the town. It poses a problem for local biodiversity. Dense, overgrown canopy can smother and replace lower, native vegetation.

The Giant Hogweed was planted in the gardens of the Grand Hôtel de Font-Romeu between the two wars.

Very dangerous for humans

More serious for humans, the sap exposed to light produces a toxin and in contact with the skin causes severe burns. Giant Hogweed, an ornamental plant, is by definition pretty. We are therefore attracted by its umbel of 50 to 150 rays, the flowers of which can be seen brightening up our living room. Above all, do not cut the stems whose sap can cause 3rd degree burns!

Faced with the threat, the Regional Natural Park of the Catalan Pyrenees has inventoried its presence in order to better eradicate it. It has been recorded along certain rivers such as the Rec de Ricaut, the Eyne valley, the Angust valley, the Sègre, towards Egat, in addition to the initial basin at Font-Romeu.

For a few years, a management plan to fight against the Giant Hogweed was established by the Regional Natural Park in partnership with the Pyrénées Cerdagne intermunicipal community via the Sègre cross-border river contract.

Protected from top to bottom for cutting flowers

Until 2019, eradication actions were carried out by the PNR, in partnership with Pyrénées Cerdagne, which commissioned the Saillagouse integration project. VSette plant has spread throughout Cerdanya, via rivers, earth transport… With the school site, we have carried out a certain number of punchy actions. The employees, protected from top to bottom, cut the flowers in order to limit the production of the seeds which generally appear during the month of August” explained Georges Armengol, president of the intercommunality, “notWe are setting up operations with our Catalan neighbors, who, located downstream, are experiencing the same problem. Their eradication strategy is different, preferring uprooting.”

The processing of this file does not currently have funding, although since 2017, Giant Hogweed has been included in the list of invasive alien species of concern for the European Union, “but we are in the process of putting together files to obtain funding at regional and European level.”

Eradication of giant hogweed: the fight is getting organized

Until 2019, eradication actions were carried out by the PNR, in partnership with Pyrénées Cerdagne, which commissioned the Saillagouse integration project.VSette plant has spread throughout Cerdanya, via rivers, earth transport… With the school site, we have carried out a certain number of punchy actions. The employees, protected from top to bottom, cut the flowers in order to limit the production of the seeds which generally appear during the month of August” explained Georges Armengol, president of the intercommunality, “notWe are setting up operations with our Catalan neighbors, who, located downstream, are experiencing the same problem. Their eradication strategy is different, preferring uprooting.” The processing of this file does not currently have funding, although since 2017, Giant Hogweed has been included in the list of invasive alien species of concern for the European Union, “but we are in the process of putting together files to obtain funding at regional and European level.”

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