Carlsbad declares war on ‘killer weed’

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CARLSBAD, Calif. —  The City of Carlsbad is planning an aggressive campaign to eradicate an invasive weed that kills everything in its path.

Ward’s Weed, which was spotted for the first time in Carlsbad and other parts of the county this spring, spreads quickly and presents a fire hazard in open spaces and canyons, the city says. It grows as a “thick mat” and “chokes out all other surrounding plant species,” city officials say. The species is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is new to North America. Officials say the current infestation is small enough that it’s possible to stamp it out before it spreads out of control.

“The reason we’re worried about it is because it spreads like crazy, it’s a threat to our native preserve system  because it tends to choke out native plants — it grows as a thick mat — and it also can be a fire hazard, because it dries up in summer,” said Roseanne Humphrey, who works with Carlsbad’s Habitat Management team. “Just like tumble weed it becomes really dry and brittle.”

The city plans to methodically spray a 200-acre area that is infested with the weed using a chemical herbicide.  The area is east of El Camino Real between Palomar Airport Road and Alga Road.

The eradication program is expected to cost the city several hundred thousand dollars. In a meeting Tuesday evening, the Carlsbad City Council unanimously voted to go ahead and spray the weed-infested area.

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