May 5, 2016

Contrary to Assertions in Recent Letter, There Are Wetland-Safe Versions of the Herbicide Glyphosate

To the Editor:

A response [“Another Point of View,” mailbox 4-27] to my letter about the pretty but highly invasive plant known as lesser celandine contained serious errors that need to be corrected. I wish we could always trust someone like Mike McGrath, the host of the You Bet Your Garden radio program mentioned in Ms. Haag’s letter. He may be knowledgeable about gardening, but when he writes about lesser celandine and other invasive species, he can display a seemingly willful ignorance about herbicides and ecology.

Contrary to his assertions, there are wetland-safe versions of the herbicide glyphosate available from companies other than Monsanto, and sometimes an aggressively invading plant can be more harmful ecologically than the small, targeted, very dilute and very effective dose of herbicide needed to prevent its spread. Western medicine, which few people are suggesting we do away with, is a useful analogy here. As one who has lived and written about the pleasures of non-chemical methods — using loppers, cardboard, and mulch to vanquish bamboo and English ivy — I usually find ways to avoid herbicides. Lesser celandine is an important exception.

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street