19 June 2020

On the lookout for Madagascan Fireweed

| My Gungahlin
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The ACT Government has removed or sprayed nearly 1600 Madagascan Fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) plants as part of an extensive program to control the invasive weed after it was spotted in several suburbs across Canberra.

Biosecurity Manager, Stephen Hughes, said the invasive weed had been removed from Acton, Coombs, Crace, Forde, Franklin, Narrabundah, Parkes and Russell.

“Even with this successful control program we are urging Canberrans to continue to be on the lookout for further infestations, as it is important to control Fireweed as quickly as possible and remove the plants before they flower and spread seeds,” Mr Hughes said.

“The infestations were mainly detected in recently laid couch turf in nature strips and other public and private land in these areas. The fireweed was brought into the ACT as seeds in the imported couch turf from New South Wales.

“Madagascan Fireweed is a small multi-stemmed daisy-like plant with bright yellow flowers often with 13 petals. It is often 10 to 60 centimetres tall. Like a daisy, the weed produces fluffy wind borne seeds. Plants can produce tens of thousands of seeds, making it highly invasive.

“A major concern is the toxicity of Fireweed to horses and grazing livestock. If ingested it can cause liver damage in these animals similar to the effects of toxins found in Paterson’s Curse.

“Madagascan Fireweed is considered one of the most damaging weeds to grazing land and the environment. It initially invades land along roadsides before spreading into neighbouring pastures and nature reserves. Locating and eradicating the weed quickly will save the ACT significant expenditure in future weed control and protect our native fauna and grazing lands.

“Due to its bright yellow flowers, Madagascan Fireweed is likely to be noticed by passing motorists. I urge residents to report Fireweed and help us manage the infestation. Residents who remove this weed should wear gloves, as it can irritate the skin, and double bag the weed when disposing of it to ensure it is not spread further.

“The ACT Government is reminding local businesses and residents that it is illegal to intentionally or recklessly import a pest plant into the ACT, with fines being up to $5,500. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly propagate a pest plant in the ACT.”

Madagascan Fireweed sightings can be emailed to [email protected] or reported to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81. Take note of the exact location of the sighting and include a photo of the plant for confirmation. For more information about weeds, visit the Weeds of National Significance website at www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/fireweed/

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