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'Tis the season to pull tansy


Residents urged to remove noxious weed in Corbett before it spreads

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Tansy ragwort, or ragweed, has dark green leaves and numerous seed heads with yellow flowers.Tansy ragwort is back in season in rural Corbett and Springdale, and area residents are asking people to pull the plant before it goes to seed and continues to spread.

“It spreads so fast,” said Susan Fry, a Corbett resident who is frustrated that more people are not taking action to get rid of it.

Stalks of tansy can be seen growing in pastures and along rural roads including the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Those unfamiliar with the noxious weed may mistake it for a tall bunch of pretty yellow flowers.

But if ingested, it is toxic to livestock and can kill a horse or cow.

It is illegal to allow tansy to grow uncontrolled on any pasture in unincorporated areas, according to Dave Thompson, Multnomah County code enforcement officer.

A person reported to be neglecting tansy on his or her property has 30 days to get rid of it, otherwise they face a fine up to $720.

“We have not received a single complaint on tansy or any other weeds for the unincorporated areas this year,” Thompson said.

In the past couple of years, few complaints and strapped resources have led the county to do little or nothing about the ragweed.

Thompson said the county can’t afford to pay work parties to do the work, which would be endless.

Tansy — which has also earned the nicknames stinking willie, stinking ninny, stinking davies, tansy butterweed and tansy ragweed — blooms in later summer to fall and grows shoulder-high.

Every year, Fry clears her 11-acre property of tansy to guard her horses from grazing on the weed.

Most animals won’t eat it, she said, but if it’s the only thing in the pasture, or they’re bored enough, they will.

Fry said people should be pulling tansy on their own property.

“It is so easy to pull,” she said.

Tansy can be easily uprooted from the ground, bagged and disposed of.

Flower heads must be chopped off and discarded in a garbage bag, so when the flower seeds, the weed doesn’t spread.

Spraying the weed with chemicals also will kill it.

There also are biological controls for tansy.

In the past, certain insects such as the cinnabar moth would eat the weed.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - A field full of tansy returns to a vacant pasture in Springdale near Lucas Road.Fry is interested in organizing a work party to rid the town of tansy. Earlier this spring, she said, the community came together to pull and bag garlic mustard, an invasive herb that spread up and down the Columbia River Gorge. People brought in bagfuls of garlic mustard to the front of Corbett Grade School for disposal.

She hopes getting the word out will prompt people to take action.

In Eugene, where Fry moved from years ago, neighbors would be at your door with pitchforks ready to turn you in if they saw tansy growing wild in your yard, she said.

“You just didn’t do it,” Fry said. “And we need to get back to that.”