The oxeye daisy has a unique name, a deceptive appearance — and a bad reputation.
That’s why Santa Fe National Forest crews are spraying the East Fork Trail in the Jemez Ranger district for the invasive weed through Thursday, hoping to quell its aggressive nature in the area.
“It really takes over,” said Karl Buermeyer, an implementation coordinator for the Santa Fe National Forest. “We actually went out today and treat some … it had pretty much taken over that entire field.”
Such is the nature of the oxeye daisy, which at first blush doesn’t look out of place among other flowers in the forest. But its appearance, with benign-looking white pedals around a yellow center, belies trouble, forest officials said.
The oxeye is actually a weed that can displace and outcompete other native vegetation — forming dense stands that displace other plants. Each flower can produce up to 200 seeds that can remain in soil for several years, aided by winds or animals.
Buermeyer said the oxeye daisy’s attractiveness, like a lot of other invasive species, probably resulted in its appearance in New Mexico.
“If you remember in Frankenstein, when the girl is pulling the pedals off the flower, it’s pretty much what this is,” he said, referring to the 1931 movie.
Buermeyer said the flower is not common in the forest, adding that when he first spotted the weed in the fall of 2020, the plant shot up the agency’s priority list.
He added it’s the first time the Forest Service is spraying for oxeye daisies. The weed can regenerate from rhizome fragments — underground stem parts — and spread into nearby meadows, woodlands and riparian areas making cutting or hand pulling the plant ineffective.
Forest service crews, using backpack sprayers, are directly applying the herbicide Rodeo, which has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in riparian and aquatic environments.
Treatment began Monday in the area between the Las Conchas Trailhead and N.M. 4, north of the East Fork Trailhead. Buermeyer said the spray usually takes about a week to set.
The East Fork Trail will remain open during the spraying.