The invasive and poisonous congress (parthenium) weed, which arrived from North America to Maharashtra and then spread over to many states in India, has wreaked havoc in villages of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, Times of India has reported.
According to the report, the parthenium weed, locally known as congress grass or gajar ghas, was first sighted in Una, Bilaspur and some lower areas of Himachal. It has now started moving to the upper reaches of the state.
The weed is spreading fast in Kharahal valley of Kullu district and can be seen mostly by the roadside of villages. The growth of the weed in the region has endangered the existence of other plant species as the parthenium suppresses their growth.
Parthenium is known for causing respiratory and skin diseases among humans and even cattle, who stay away from the grass due to its poisonous properties.
Vimal Sharma, a resident of Talaiti village of Kharahal valley, told the paper that locals were not aware of this species until two years ago. He said the weed is growing everywhere and spreading very fast.
According to the report, experts say that complete eradication of the congress weed, once it spreads, is very difficult.
Bhupinder Singh Rana, a forest conservator with Himachal Forest Department, told the paper that the best way to get rid of parthenium is to uproot it by hands, using gloves and mask, before it grows flowers and seeds.