dog strangling vine toronto

Popular Toronto trail is about to get doused with chemicals to kill invasive plants

A stretch of the busy West Toronto Railpath will get a hose-down in chemicals next week, as Metrolinx continues its fight against an invasive species strangling vegetation in the area.

The transit agency issued a notice advising the public that crews will be reapplying herbicide to a stretch of the railpath containing a species of the milkweed family, known by its foreboding name of dog strangling vine.

Dog strangling vine (Vincetoxicum rossicum/nigrum) is just one of the many invasive plant species found in Toronto, colloquially named for its ability to choke out surrounding vegetation by wrapping itself around other plants and trees as it grows to heights of up to two metres.

Its ability to spread rapidly — producing up to 28,000 seeds per square metre and able to grow from just fragments of a root — make it a troublesome species for removal.

To cull the growing presence of this invasive plant, crews will be dousing the stretch of railpath between Dupont Street and Ernest Avenue with a herbicide commercially known as Roundup Weathermax.

Work will take place during the week of May 29 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

The herbicide in question uses the active ingredient glyphosate to kill plants through desiccation or drying. It is among the most widely used herbicides on the market, though there are conflicting studies on its potential carcinogenicity.

Regardless of its long-term effects or lack thereof in smaller doses, you probably won't want to be walking through the splash zone when spraying time arrives.

Not that you will have that option.

Metrolinx warns the public that there will be no entry to treated areas during and for at least one hour after the herbicide is applied. In its notice of the impending spraying, Metrolinx advises the public that "the area will be safe for people and pets once it has completely dried."

"After approximately two weeks, the dead vegetation will be cut and removed," the advisory continues.

Lead photo by

Rob Routledge

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