BAY VIEW — The threat of invasive species and importance of containing their spread were highlighted last week during national Invasive Species Awareness Week.

On Saturday, a small group of volunteers removed an invasive plant — called herb robert — at the Breazeale Interpretive Center at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve near Bay View.

Roger Fuller, the reserve’s stewardship coordinator, said the plant — nicknamed stinky Bob due to its smell — grows in the forest understory and shades out native plants, such as forest wildflowers. It also releases chemicals in the soil that prevent seed germination in native plants.

“Over the past 25 years, it’s just exploded,” he said.

He said it’s likely gardeners planted herb robert, native to Europe, for ornamental uses. The plant has expanded to wild areas and spreads prolifically.

“(Plants can) fling seeds 15 feet, and the seeds can survive in the soil up to six years,” Fuller said.

Seeds are further spread through hikers and deer.

He said some non-native plants — such as the Himalayan blackberry— can be beneficial because they provide valuable food and habitat.

The New Zealand mud snail and the European green crab are two invasive species of animals found in Skagit County in recent years. The Asian giant hornet — an invasive species not previously found in Washington — was recorded in Whatcom County in December and can harm honeybees needed for crop pollination.

Those who think they have found an invasive species can report it at invasivespecies.wa.gov/report-a-sighting/

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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