Weed Spotter Newsletter Issue 14
Japanese knotweed found in a St Kilda street
Kylie O'Hagan, Biosecurity Officer, Port Phillip
A new Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) site has been found 400 metres from a recorded infestation in the St Kilda Botanic Gardens. Thanks to the keen eye of a registered Weed Spotter who also manages the gardens, and reported the site immediately.
Two stems were found emerging from the pavement and treated immediately. This site will be treated three times over summer to ensure the plant does not spread. Investigations are underway to try and determine how the plant came to be at the property. It is unlikely although possible, that this plant has spread underground from the original infestation.
A recent report from the United Kingdom has shown how quickly knotweed can damage buildings with one house deemed unsafe and demolition being recommended. Stems broke through the tiled floor, cracked through plaster and the roof. The house is now worth one sixth of what it was when purchased. The control costs have been estimated at £25,000 (about $AU37,000). This demonstrates how invasive and destructive knotweed species can be and why it is important to prevent their dispersal in Victoria.
Knotweed becomes dormant over winter so now is the time to inspect gardens for this pesky weed as they re-emerge during spring and summer. Knotweeds are fast growing semi-woody perennials that form dense leafy thickets. Stems are hollow and become very woody with age and produce small clusters of white flowers in summer.
Knotweed is often confused with the bleeding heart tree however bleeding heart trees have heart shaped leaves which turn red with age. Knotweed leaves are bright green. Stems of bleeding heart trees are straight whereas knotweed stems zig zag up the stem.
If you believe you may have knotweed in your garden please report it to the Department of Primary Industries immediately on 136 186. Please do not attempt to remove the plant yourself.
A Horse-tale from the 2011 Elmore Field Days
Tom Lonsdale, Biosecurity Officer, North Central
The display of live State prohibited weeds at public events often proves an effective way of generating new reports. The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) held a display at this year's Elmore Field Days exhibiting live State prohibited weed specimens including water hyacinth, salvinia, Karoo thorn, Japanese knotweed, and horsetails.
One visitor was seen studying a horsetail specimen with a look of concern. The lady soon realised her mother had a State prohibited weed growing in her garden. Her mother's contact details were provided to DPI and a staff member inspected the Heathcote property just days later. A bath tub in the front garden, which contained the horsetails in pots, was completely covered by mattered horsetail roots that proved very difficult to remove.
The horsetails are thought to have been planted about three years ago for medicinal value, but luckily they were never passed on to anyone for further propagation.
Gippsland's Baw Baw Home and Garden Expo at Warragul
Dianne Glen, Biosecurity Officer, West Gippsland
The annual Baw Baw Home and Garden Expo was held at Lardner Park near Warragul over the weekend of October 8 and 9, 2011. Over 40 specialist and general nurseries, together with all imaginable garden accessories and home wares, were extremely popular with expo visitors.
As in previous years, DPI held a State prohibited weed display over the two day exhibition focusing on displaying species that may be found in West Gippsland. As a result four State prohibited weed reports were received. The reports have been followed up with a water hyacinth infestation being confirmed to the west of Melbourne and a horsetail infestation confirmed near Western Port. An orange hawkweed report was found to be a flat weed.
DPI encourages members of the general public to report potential State prohibited weed sightings and displays at garden shows and expos provide a great opportunity for the public to see live State prohibited weeds and help in our fight to detect and eradicate them.
Riding the rails in West Gippsland
Dianne Glenn, Biosecurity Officer, West Gippsland
A recent investigation of a State prohibited weed report from a Weed Spotter has given rise to the use of an unusual mode of transport.
Weed Spotter, Greg Gilbert, was travelling by train to Melbourne when he spotted what appeared to him to be giant horsetails, a State prohibited weed, growing along the railway line between the Morwell and Moe in Gippsland.
DPI mounted a joint operation with V/Line to investigate the suspected infestation which involved utilising a track maintenance vehicle brought in from Melbourne for the day. A V/Line train engineer drove the vehicle, adhering to strict protocols requiring constant radio communication with V/Line track controllers. At one point the vehicle was required to leave the tracks to allow passage for the Bairnsdale to Melbourne train.
The investigation could not confirm the presence of the State prohibited weed on the day however, a number of look-alike plants were eliminated. Some species of horsetails die back to underground parts during winter and the plant favours wet places such as the moist, low lying ditch found along this particular stretch of railway line. DPI will make a return trip to reinspect this site in the warmer months to confirm whether the species is present or not.
As Greg discovered, State prohibited weeds can be found anywhere. This includes agricultural areas, roadsides, bushland, coastal dunes, wetlands, home gardens, cemeteries, weekend markets, nurseries and garden centres. DPI encourages all Weed Spotters to remain vigilant wherever they travel.
Weed Spotter training in West Gippsland
Dianne Glenn, Biosecurity Officer, West Gippsland
Key land managers in the West Gippsland catchment participated in Weed Spotter training recently.
Officers at Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment based at Traralgon joined with members of the general public to learn more about State prohibited weeds and to hone their weed identification skills.
Public land managers are ideally placed to sound the alert on State prohibited weed infestations as they spend many hours doing field work in parks and reserves and along waterways.
Weed Spotter training provides information on DPI's strategies for detecting and eradicating State prohibited weeds and provides participants with the opportunity to improve their weed identification skills.
If you work for a public land manager and would like Weed Spotter training please contact DPI on 136 186 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Kylie O'Hagan Biosecurity Officer for High Risk Invasive Plants at Attwood
Kylie has worked for DPI for the past 12 years, commencing at the Bacchus Marsh office in 1999 as a serrated tussock extension officer.
She has since worked in a variety of roles and locations including: Serrated Tussock Compliance Officer at Bacchus Marsh, Compliance Officer working on blackberry, silverleaf nightshade, gorse, Paterson's curse and serrated tussock at Benalla, a role in the mobile compliance taskforce and as a Weed Alert Contact Officer at Leongatha.
Kylie now works at the Attwood office as a Biosecurity Officer. Kylie's job varies from day to day, which is one of the parts of the role that she enjoys the most. She conducts training sessions on weed identification, along with following up target species reports, monitoring and treating State prohibited weeds.
She is also the Senior Compliance Officer for the Port Phillip catchment which involves ensuring all compliance activities are undertaken correctly and to a high standard. She takes the lead role in complex compliance issues, ranging from obtaining search warrants to interviewing difficult clients.
Kylie said she enjoys the flexibility of her job which involves spending 50 per cent of her time outdoors and the remainder at the office. "The variety of the job and not knowing what I could be doing from day to day keeps things interesting. One day I could be removing water hyacinth from a backyard and the next I might be conducting surveillance or assisting in a locust response."
One of the most unusual roles Kylie has been involved in on the job has been to sit hidden in scrub wearing camouflage gear for four hours conducting surveillance alongside a busy freeway. "You never know who is watching!"
In her spare time Kylie loves travelling and is always hoping to be able to do more. "One of my most favourite places is Mexico. I have never seen such beautiful waterfalls, beaches and magnificent ruins, and the food is fabulous."
Kylie has also travelled to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, USA and Canada and hopes to go to Europe next year to meet family in England and the Netherlands.