Weed that chokes all surrounding species spotted in North County

CARLSBAD, Calif. — The city of Carlsbad needs help stamping out an invasive weed that grows as a “thick mat” and “chokes out all other surrounding plant species.”

Ward’s Weed, which was spotted for the first time in Carlsbad and other parts of the county in recent weeks, spreads quickly and presents a fire hazard in open spaces and canyons, the city says. The species is new to North America, but officials say the current infestation is small enough that it’s possible to stamp out before it grows out of control.

The city asked residents to download the iNaturalist App on their phone, which can help identify the plant when you take a photo. The app will notify a local biologist if the plant appears to be a match so they can confirm the plant’s identity. Carlsbad officials also asked anyone who spots the plant to email Rosanne Humphrey, senior program manager, at rosanne.humphrey@carlsbadca.gov with the precise location.

Ward’s Weed is similar to tumbleweed and the mustard plant, which have spread throughout the western U.S., the city explained. In Australia, the plant spread from a single instance in 1915 throughout the entire continent.

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