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Saturday 2 August 2014

Lucky escape for hillwalkers trapped in 'alien' rhododendrons

Emma Jane Hade

Published 18/06/2014|02:30

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The scene at Bay Lough in the Knockmealdown mountains were the experienced hillwalkers became trapped

EXPERTS have called for measures to control wildflowers after two hillwalkers became trapped in a thick forest of a rhododendron plants for five hours.

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Zoe Devlin, the author of 'Wildflowers Ireland', said that the rhododendron plant can grow "as large as it's let" and that it is on the list of "invasive alien plants" found in Ireland.

She said that "we should be doing something" about it and other wild plants, including the Japanese knotweed.

Her comments came after a Co Waterford couple became trapped in a dense forest of rhododendrons in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Members of the South Eastern Mountain Rescue (SEMR) team battled to free the couple from the "virtually impenetrable" plants after they received a distress call shortly before 5.30pm on Sunday.

The couple, who were described as being extremely experienced and well-equipped hillwalkers, had attempted to hike around the Tipperary/ Waterford border before they got into trouble and contacted 999 which connected them with Cahir garda station.

"They had walked to the summit of the Knockshanahullion. But instead of taking the normal route down, they attempted to take the Bay Lough route. This brought them into steep ground and essentially an impenetrable forest," SEMR team leader Ray Bradfield explained.

Wildflower expert Ms Devlin explained that the rhododendron plant could be very dangerous as "it can grow up to six metres tall if is let".

She said that a similar problem had been encountered and successfully treated at Killarney National Park in Co Kerry.

Irish Independent

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