The invasive shiny geranium, distinguishable by its red, smooth stem and glossy leaves, is a plant species being closely monitored in the Capital Region District. (Bruce Newhouse/King County Department of Environment)

The invasive shiny geranium, distinguishable by its red, smooth stem and glossy leaves, is a plant species being closely monitored in the Capital Region District. (Bruce Newhouse/King County Department of Environment)

Invasive shiny geranium starts to make inroads into the South Island

Officials count on landowners, general public to report sightings of plant

An invasive plant relatively new to the Capital Region is being watched closely by specialists and members of the public who worry about the effects its further spread could have on native species and local ecosystems.

Shiny geranium, which can appear as ground cover and looks similar to at least three other non-invasive plants around the region, has been the target of eradication efforts by the province, in conjunction with local governments and landowners, since 2014.

But Glenn Harris, senior manager for environmental protection with the Capital Regional District, calls Greater Victoria a “hotspot for this species in B.C.” Despite active management, this species continues to aggressively spread, especially on private properties, he added.

“Our hope is still to eradicate this species to prevent harmful impacts to local ecosystems – but this will require all sites to be reported and managed,” he said in an email.

The CRD is keeping an eye on outcroppings of the plant in Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay, Langford, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (Otter Point), North Saanich and Salt Spring Island. Harris advises anyone who identifies shiny geranium on their property to report it immediately to the province (online at bit.ly/3ywmHDZ), remove all plants and monitor for re-growth and bring the plants to Hartland landfill in a closed bag labelled as invasive species.

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To prevent spread, landowners are asked to not trade, sell, mow or compost this plant, keeping in mind its seeds can remain in the soil after the plant has been removed, he said.

Saanich resident Colleen O’Brien is one resident sounding the alarm about shiny geranium to raise public awareness about the plant.

“Not many people even know to look for this plant, although their property may be infested with it,” she told Black Press Media. “I’ve found several such properties in my sleuthing.”

O’Brien has been pulling shiny geranium at Playfair Park since 2015 and said she has seen widespread infestation along the Lochside Trail and Lochside Drive corridor, in multiple Saanich parks and throughout the Tattersall Road and Playfair Park area. She highly encourages people to first be able to clearly identify the plant, then alert authorities about it and get pulling.

Photos and descriptions of the plant can be found online at bit.ly/39js3HS. Questions about invasive plants can be emailed to the Ministry of Environment at invasive.plants@gov.bc.ca.

EnvironmentSaanichWest Shore