Invasive ‘stinknet’ growing in the Phoenix-area creating headaches for homeowners

More and more Arizonans have been complaining about how much there is, given that when it dries out, it becomes fire fuel.
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 8:08 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 14, 2023 at 8:33 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- You may have seen it around the Valley and thought it was a wildflower, but Globe Chamomile, or ‘stinknet,’ is an invasive plant. Over the years, more and more Arizonans have been complaining about how much there is, given that when it dries out, it becomes fire fuel.

The flower looks like a bright yellow globe, but it’s not a native plant to Arizona; instead comes from South Africa. However, no one knows how it got here, but most want it gone. “We moved here in 2016, so the first year we saw a little bit of it, very little bit of it. This was just desert, just regular desert plants. But every year, it’s gotten progressively worse,” said David Davidoff, who lives in Cave Creek.

It’s in Cave Creek that stinknet now blankets properties and mountainsides. “We’ve had to work at getting it several times this year; every time, it’s been a lot of work,” Davidoff said.

His neighbor right across the street feels the same way. “Just a couple weeks ago, we had this entire section behind me completely cleared,” said Rick Ivanseck. It’s to the point where neighbors say it’s become a nuisance. “It costs us a few thousand dollars every year to clean this off now,” Ivanseck said.

Shawn Gilleland is a firefighter who has seen the plant for years. “As you can see when you look across the desert it kind of fills in all those areas where other plants aren’t. So it doesn’t really overtake many of the other plants, but it’ll just grow throughout every area that’s available,” he said.

As summer approaches, he knows the plants will dry out and become a threat. “Obviously if you look out across the desert it adds a lot of color. They didn’t realize how dangerous and how quickly it’s going to dry out and become fire fuel,” he said.

It’s a thought homeowners are terrified of. “It petrifies us. Frankly we keep out truck hooked up to the horse trailer in big part because of that. We’re worried something may catch fire quickly and we’ll have to grab the horses and go,” Davidoff said.

Gilleland says clearing the plants out and being persistent is extremely important. “Right now is great time to get rid of it. Especially when it’s not dried out. Once it’s dried out you start spreading the spores around, but when it’s still in it’s green state it’s a lot less likely to spread across your property and throw those spores into the air where it’ll carry,” he said.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture placed the plant on its list of noxious weeds in 2020. However, a lot of research is still being conducted to figure out the best way to eradicate the plant completely.