Weeds – some are worse than others – but why?
Our weed of the month for May is not a big threat at Cape Jervis – yet, and maybe never, but we will watch and act if necessary. The worst important weeds for any given area can be different but there are formal processes for classifying weeds. There are 32 weeds that have widespread impact, and are listed as “Weeds of National Significance”, based on their invasiveness, potential for spread and environmental, social and economic impacts (http://www.environment.gov.au/ biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeds/lists/wons.html). We have two of these on site, bridal creeper and boxthorn. Each state also has its own “Declared Weeds”, that land holders are required to control on their own land (http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity /weeds_and_pest_animals/weeds_in_sa). Other weed threats, such as Acacia cyclops are more localised. Woody weeds such as olive and cyclops are a BIG problem in the biodiverse coastal heathlands at the Cape because of their rapid growth and their smothering effect. Come out with us for a few hours and we can show you the benefits of removing these weeds and help you recognise young seedlings so they can be removed before they become a big problem.
Photos: hand-pulled ‘cyclops’ seedlings (E. Cousins); resprouting poisoned olive; a sea of baby olives (C. Schultz).
(Photos: E. Cousins, plant; C. Schultz, close-up of stem, at Cape Jervis)
This plant is from the same family as the quandong (Santalaceae) though you wouldn’t think so from the differences in the fruit or foliage!
‘Aphyllus’ is from the Greek, meaning ‘without leaves’. There are in fact leaves on the thick, rigid branches, but they are TINY (less than 1mm), more like scales! And expecting a cherry-like fruit or two? Try a small black ovoid (egg-shape) with a squashed creamy-red base (hence ‘Exocarpus’: ‘outside the nut’). Even the yellow flower clusters are small, at less than 4mm. These are present over spring and early summer, and protrude from the branches on short stalks. Tiny leaves, tiny flowers, tiny fruit… yet the olive-green bush can grow over 3.5m tall, with heaps of branches! Although common in many other parts of Australia, it is classed as ‘vulnerable’ on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
(Photos: E. Cousins; foliage, young flower and bud; bees on mature flower.)
Such a beautiful flower, and such beautiful foliage! A native of WA, this makes a lovely garden plant…just not so lovely when it escapes into local native bushland! The small bushy tree has flat blue-green leaves, reminiscent of acacias or eucalypts. The edges of the leaves can be tinged with red, while strong vein markings give a striped look so the leaves are fairly distinctive. The autumn and winter flowers though give the plant its common name. On breaking out of their capsules the white protruding stamens are firstly bent, then straighten out like pins from a red base. As you can see from the second photo above, the bees LOVE the nectar these flowers produce (there were more than one dozen of them clustered in that one flower)! Grow one in your own garden, but please, make sure it doesn’t spread elsewhere!
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