January 20, 2002 11:00 pm

Two non-native plants, found in several places in Union County, have been officially given the dubious status of weeds.

Sulfur cinquefoil, whose close relatives are sold as garden plants, and common bugloss were given the official weed status by the Union County commissioners at their meeting last week.

The cinquefoil, with a yellow flower and small branched leaves that resemble miniature marijuana leaves, has been found at an elevation of about 4,000 feet on the slope of Mount Harris, said Gary Dade, the countys weed manager.

Weve found quite a bit there, Dade said. Also in Elgin and North Powder. It seems to be starting to spread.

The weed has one merit: It displaces two other weeds, yellow starthistle and knapweed, but it may out-compete grass. Livestock and wild game do not eat cinquefoil.

Common bugloss, with blue-purple flowers, stands more than a foot tall and has a deep taproot. The plant invades alfalfa fields and pastures and the stalks can cause hay bales to mold, Dade said.

The common bugloss has been found on Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union and along Grays Corner Road, he said.

I think we can eradicate bugloss, Dade told the commissioners.

The county uses a multi-pronged approach, including herbicides and insects, to control noxious weeds. Union County and the cities of La Grande and Union have ordinances governing weed control. If a landowner doesnt control weeds, the governments will spray or dig the plants and bill the landowner.

From Observer staff reports