A walk along the steinach river makes it clear: there simply had to be more sheep, goats or cattle around mitwitz. And in some places, perhaps fewer people. "The animals eat the plants, for them they are completely harmless", says engelbert singhartinger of the lower nature conservation authority at the kronach district office.
These are the consequences of contact with giant hogweed.
And no, this is not to create a negative atmosphere against the market community around the moated castle. The expert talks about the giant hogweed, which is currently pushing its way out of the ground, especially along the steinach, but also on the rodach or hablach, and which people should be wary of because of its toxicity.
One blood – 10,000 seeds
"One blood has 10 000 seeds", singhartinger says about the rapidly multiplying plant that grows up to 3.5 meters and can cause severe burns.
"That's why I don't understand why people watch it grow", complains dierk
beckroge. The man from altenkunstadt works in the ASB rescue service in neustadt near coburg and is therefore familiar with the dangers posed by the plant poison. That's why he wonders every day on his commute about the fields of barrens around mitwitz, some of which are 20 to 30 plants in size. Especially near horb an der steinach, where beckroge has relatives, he watches closely. "I see a growing danger. Especially for children."
expert singhartinger assesses the matter less dramatically, but also worries about it. "There should be none on account of it and we have that under control." but, he says, "there are more and more of them. Who knows what it will look like in ten years?."
The most important problem in the fight against the majestic-looking plants: the giant hogweed, which actually comes from the caucasus and was introduced to europe as an ornamental plant, is difficult to keep down. "Simply cutting it off is no good, otherwise it will quickly sprout again."
It is much more important to catch the exact moment when the blood forms the transition to the seed. "But for this they need a trained worker." the second possibility is to cut off the roots ten to fifteen centimeters below the ground. "But that makes a lot of work, especially in inaccessible places along the river", says singhartinger, who also points out: "for insects and bees the plants are very valuable."
Nevertheless: the giant hogweed must not be allowed to spread unhindered – according to michael nawrath from the building administration of the municipality of mitwitz. "We remove the plants if they are a danger." in 2017, a company was commissioned to mulch a barenklau field near horb with special equipment. And in the spring of 2018, they had also taken action against the plants at the wasserschloss. Nawrath: "we also had to put our money where our mouth is again. At present, however, we have no information from the population about plants on municipal land."
Because not only the municipality is responsible, but every landowner. So private individuals, county councils, municipalities, trench construction authorities or – most frequently – the kronach water management authority. And this is by no means unattractive. "From may to the end of june, our employees have spent at least 100 working hours fighting against the giant bar theft", says georg seidl, responsible for hydraulic engineering and water development. The number is valid for the whole area of the office – the counties and cities of kronach, lichtenfels, coburg, bamberg and forchheim with a total water length of 750 kilometers.
Rootstocks are burned
"The plants spread aggressively. If we want to eradicate them, we've already lost the battle", says seidl, who nevertheless sees hardly any danger for playing children.
"Where there is public traffic, we dig up the roots and burn them." this shows the dimension of the task. If the cut flowers were composted, they would spread there as well.
"In order to actively combat giant bar theft, you had to do it all the time", says seidl, who emphasizes: "we are doing our best." but if just one blood is forgotten, it starts all over again year after year.