Tea on the bog

Labrador Tea Ledum groenlandicum is not a beverage for retrievers but a plant; specifically, a member of the Erica family which is a relation of the Heaths and Rhododendron.

Ellen wrote an excellent article on the origins of Labrador Tea and how it found its way on to Flanders Moss.

lab tea plant

Flowering Labrador Tea (Photo David Pickett)

Labrador Tea on Flanders Moss (Photo Lisa O'Brien)

Labrador Tea in winter (Photo Lisa O’Brien)

Although it’s quite a bonnie plant it’s now spreading like a mini-me Rhododendron ponticum and needs controlling.

In an effort to reduce our use of herbicide, mechanical means (a fancy way of saying muscle power) is the preferred course of action. The trick is to rip it out by the roots and do as little damage to the bog surface as possible. This takes a delicate blend of finesse and sheer brute force.A delicate operation

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been out on that part of the bog, but with some uncertain and slightly wobbly navigation, eventually found the patches (which was an achievement as they are really well camouflaged).

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Spot the Labrador Tea Patch

Lab Tea Patch2

After a couple of goes, we got the hang of tearing out the offending plant and using the combined skills of a watchmaker and a JCB, we got stuck in to removing the Lab Tea patches.

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Ripping out Labrador Tea

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Minimising damage to Sphagnum Moss Hummock

Treating Moss with love (Photo Lisa O'Brien)

Treating Moss with love (Photo Lisa O’Brien)

After we cleared an area and were feeling quite pleased at the amount we’d done, it was home-time and back to a proper cup of Tea Camellia sinensis. On the way back off the bog we took a more direct route, which took us through a massive patch that I’d completely missed on the way in.

Glass half empty: Oh no! There’s loads more to do.

Glass half full: Plenty more reasons to go to one of the wildest and most pristine parts of the Moss

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