Welcome back to our series on Las Vegas’ pesky, sometimes deadly, noxious weeds. To catch everyone up to speed, noxious weeds are plants that are not native to an area and are instead invasive. To be considered noxious, the weed has to pose a threat to local plant life or wildlife. If it meets that standard, it’s placed on a list of noxious weeds that is maintained by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
We’ve already seen a variety of beautiful and poisonous weeds, it’s time to jump back in with even more of them! Remember, if you ever spot what you think is a noxious weed, call the Nevada Department of Agriculture to report it. They will alert you to the proper procedure to remove them, or may send someone out themselves depending on how dangerous the plant is. It also helps them keep records and spot trends for outbreaks to better prevent them in the future.
- Crimson Fountain Grass – it’s difficult to look past the pennisetum setaceum, which is native to Africa and Asia. It stands up to five feet tall in a circular bush style. It also has long purple spike flowers that can be three to twelve inches long and a couple inches in diameter. It thrives in dry environments, stealing moisture from native plant species. Plus, they increase the risk of more intense wildfires than usual, which is a highly dangerous situation to put an area in.
- Mayweed Chamomile – the anthemis cotula branches out, only growing up to two feet off the ground. It appears like a giant bush area with daisy-like flowers budding all over. It can also have hairy leaves bulking it up. What makes it so bad for Las Vegas is that, when crushed or trampled, it irritates the skin of children and animals. More importantly, it can actually change the flavor of milk in any lactating animal that comes into contact with it. This can have dire effects on cow pastures for example.
- Water Hemlock – cicuta, or Water Hemlock, is considered across the nation as one of the most dangerous plants in the US, not just Las Vegas. It grows up to five feet tall with purples streaks on the stiff, stout stem. Small white flowers form in umbrella clusters on the very tips, like blossoming bouquets. When ingested by animals or people, it can cause severe convulsions. Symptoms of coma and death have even been reported from simply handling the plant, leading some studies to consider it more deadly than arsenic.
Isn’t it crazy what a little plant can do? That’s why it’s so crucial to check your gardens regularly for any of these noxious weeds trying to make a home of your plant beds. And, when out on hikes or walking trails, be sure not to touch any plants you don’t know well. This is especially important to teach children who love to get their hands on everything!
We’ll be back again soon to continue our study of noxious weeds in Las Vegas. In fact, we’re getting close to being 20% of the way through the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s list of these pesky plants. So check back in soon and, until next time, stay safe.