Turning ‘rhoddies’ into wood fuel in Colintraive

Volunteers from the Colintraive and Glendaruel areas learn about the 'lever-and-mulch' method of dealing with invasive rhododendrons.
Volunteers from the Colintraive and Glendaruel areas learn about the 'lever-and-mulch' method of dealing with invasive rhododendrons.

Householders in the Colintraive and Glendaruel area could soon be using Britain’s most widespread and damaging non-native plant to heat their homes.

A greener way to tackle Rhododendrum ponticum was the focus of a day-long event in Colintraive village hall recently, introducing residents in the area to the ‘lever-and-mulch’ method of treating the plant - and the associated threat of the rotting fungus Phytophthora, which is hosted by the ‘rhoddies’.

The lever-and-mulch method involves every part of the plant and root being extracted from the ground, and the plan for the Col-Glen area is for the uprooted plants to be air-dried and turned into a ready-to-use wood fuel, with a very low risk of plant regrowth.

Sara Maclean, project officer for Greener ColGlen, which organised the event, said: “You only have to go a short distance in Cowal to see how badly we have become infested, without really noticing it taking hold.

“We want to explore whether, by avoiding the burning technique and using other methods of eradication, we can find a lower carbon, more effective and cheaper way to both eradicate Rhododendron ponticum from our area and use it for local woodfuel.”