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Plan Underway to Halt the Spread of Lupines in Húsavík

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Plan Underway to Halt the Spread of Lupines in Húsavík

lupines

Photo: Páll Kjartansson

A plan is underway to halt the spread of lupine flowers within the town of Húsavík in North Iceland, RÚV reports. The plants now cover 6.5 square kilometers within the town limits and are spreading fast, raising concerns for locally based environmental scientist Elke Wald. Elke is now in the process of developing a plan of action and doing experiments to see how best to control the spread of these plants.

“I came last year and thought there were a rather lot of lupine,” she said.

The Nootka lupine, native to the northern part of North America, was introduced to Iceland in 1945 to combat soil erosion and assist in revegetation efforts. The problem, however, is that these purple blossoms are incredibly strong and grow quite tall, meaning that they often interfere with the growth and proliferation of native species.

The best time to cut down lupine in order to prevent it spreading is a three to four-week period around Midsummer’s Day. Lupine that are cut during this time period usually have not had a chance to produce seeds that then get spread far and wide by the persistent Icelandic wind.

However, not everyone in Húsavík is on board with the plan to stifle the local lupines just yet. As such, no radical action will be taken to combat the spread of lupine this summer, Elke says, but she hopes that her experiments now will lead to an action plan that can be implemented next year. One idea is to mow down a lupine field and then use it for sheep and horse grazing.

Elke and local resident Jan Klitgaard will present their research and proposal to curb lupine proliferation on so-called ‘Lupine Day,’ July 7th, next to Lake Botnsvatn just outside of Húsavík.

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