By Charlotte Hings
Pollen from ragweed is a primary cause of hay fever and in effort to help the residents of NDG breathe better, Eco-Quartier NDG and its passionate volunteers have been hard at work identifying and pulling up ragweed all over NDG this past summer. Ragweed is a very common weed in Quebec, as well as Southern and Western Ontario that thrives in patches of sunny and unmaintained greenery. It has a very unique appearance and is easily identified by its finely divided and pointed leaves and tiny yellow-green flower beads growing on long, slim stalks at the top of the plant.
Ragweed has three distinct lifecycle phases that occur during different months of the spring and summer. The seeds that had fallen in the previous autumn begin to germinate in April and by the beginning of June, the plants are about 2-3 inches tall with no flowers. Through June and July, the plants grow taller and the leaves grow larger. By mid-August, the plants begin to flower and throughout September and October the pollen spreads around by wind. The pollen is the noxious element of the plant because it causes allergies and other unpleasant symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion and irritation, eye watering and irritation, throat inflammation and drowsiness. Between 10% and 25% of Quebecers are allergic to ragweed pollen, which is the main reason why Eco-Quartier NDG has been working so hard to reduce the amount of ragweed growing in the borough before it flowers.
Fortunately, the roots of ragweed are small and shallow, meaning that the plant can be easily removed with minimal effort. The most efficient way of removing ragweed is to simply pull it out of the ground by hand (contact with an un-pollinating plant is completely safe). Cutting them down with a lawnmower is also a simple way to stop the plants from growing, however, the roots can survive in the soil for up to 40 years, meaning that this obnoxious weed will re-grow in spots where it had been removed for many years to come.
Eco-Quartier NDG encourages all residents to rip up these nasty weeds to help everyone breathe a little better.