Weed Spotter newsletter Issue 15
Water hyacinth - not wanted here!
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) have recently developed a range of communications products specifically designed to provide important information to cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Victoria.
The products which include a storyboard and video, communicate information about the illegal status of the State prohibited weed water hyacinth and how to report plants. DEPI staff worked with local government and migrant resource centres to distribute these products to over 100 community centres in the greater Melbourne area. Numerous cultural events and festivals were also attended by DEPI to further raise awareness within the CALD communities.
Water hyacinth originates in Brazil and is commonly found in many south-east Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The introduction of water hyacinth to Victoria in the 1800's is a result of the ornamental plant trade and is not specifically linked to a cultural group. However, some members of south-east Asian communities have been found trading the plant, unaware that it was illegal to sell water hyacinth in Victoria. Engagement with these communities has been positive in raising awareness about the threat that water hyacinth poses to our waterways.
The project has also been very effective in informing multiple language groups about water hyacinth and helping to improve our relationship with CALD communities.
If you would like further information or to view the video please visit www.depi.vic.gov.au/waterhyacinth.
Hawkweed – Weed Spotter surveillance in the high country
The Falls Creek Hawkweed Eradication Program has once again succeeded in detecting and treating infestations of hawkweeds in the Victorian high country. The program is a joint effort between the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, Falls Creek Resort Management, Falls Creek Ski Lifts and volunteer surveillance teams.
This season a total of 66 volunteers joined in the search for hawkweeds, of which 53% were return volunteers, putting to good use their knowledge and experience from previous years. Volunteers contributed 1,150 person hours to the hawkweed surveillance program, surveying an area of 117 hectares or 38% of the total survey effort this season. Of the 302 hectares surveyed in total, hawkweed was discovered and treated in 15 (one hectare) grids. Volunteers were responsible for discoveries in six of these grids.
Last season, mouse-ear hawkweed was discovered at Pretty Valley, which is the first naturalised infestation discovered in Victoria or Australia. This season, 33 grids were surveyed for mouse-ear hawkweed in this area and plants were discovered in seven grids. Volunteers contributed 323 person hours and everyone who took part can confirm that it is hard to find. This year volunteers helped locate the plants and map infestations, identifying 46 individual sites over approximately 4 hectares.
As a successful season ends, the program prepares for another. The eradication of hawkweeds from Victoria's high country is dependent on a consistent search effort each season, to locate and treat these invasive plants. Volunteer surveys play an important role in the eradication program. The 2013/2014 Hawkweed season is fast approaching, with the strategy for the upcoming season in preparation. If you would like to volunteer for the 2013/14 surveillance season, please email email@example.com (not monitored between May and September, replies will be sent early September 2013) or call Mt Beauty Parks Victoria Office (03) 5754 4693.
Getting to know hawkweed
In the summer of 2012-13, DEPI began a project aimed at informing those who spend time in Victoria's high country about the risks posed by hawkweeds.
Hawkweeds are a small herb with daisy like flowers and have very hairy green leaves that are arranged in a rosette close to the ground. The stems contain milky sap and are covered in short stiff hairs. Hawkweed flowers can be bright orange (orange hawkweed Hieracium aurantiacum) or yellow (king devil Hieracium praealtum and mouse ear hawkweed Hieracium pilosella) have square-ended petals and grow in clusters of five to thirty flower heads depending on the species. The entire hawkweed genus (Hieracium) is classified State prohibited in Victoria.
As part of this project a brochure, poster and training presentation were developed to highlight the three different species of hawkweed currently found in Victoria. These brochures and posters were distributed to all open businesses at Falls Creek and Mt Buller and to all interested Bushwalking clubs that visited the high country. A presentation focusing on identifying hawkweed was also offered to all Bushwalking clubs affiliated with Bushwalking Victoria.
Engagement with lodge owners in the Falls Creek Village was an important aspect of this project, as lodge owners often have visitors who walk over the high country in summer. By passing information on to their guests, lodge owners are helping protect this important area of Victoria.For more information about this article please contact Sarah Partington 03 9217 4404.
Time series growth of water hyacinth
Two new infestations of water hyacinth have been found in dams in the Melbourne suburbs of Keysborough and Wantirna South. The species was found to be flourishing in both locations with the dams completely covered by the highly invasive aquatic State prohibited weed.
The owner of the Keysborough property was concerned about an unknown plant spreading on his dam and engaged a contractor to treat the infestation. Fortunately, the contractor had been involved in treating another aquatic State prohibited weed, salvinia, on an unrelated property, and had been made aware of water hyacinth during that event. When he realised what the plant was, he contacted DEPI immediately.
A Parks Victoria ranger, drove past the dam in Wantirna South as part of her management work and noticed an infestation of a familiar plant. She remembered seeing photos of the plant in the High Risk Invasive Plants calendar and immediately contacted DEPI.
Time series aerial photos were collated to gain an understanding of when the water hyacinth plants first infested the dams and how quickly they grew. The photos indicated that in both cases the infestations went from just a few plants to completely covering the dams in a matter of months. These photos are also useful for understanding how quickly new infestations of aquatic State prohibited weeds are being reported to DEPI.
Both infestations have been treated by DEPI and will continue to be monitored until the infestations are eradicated. The assistance of those who make reports of State prohibited weeds to DEPI plays a vital role in the eradication of these species from Victoria.
If you think you have seen water hyacinth, please call DEPI on 136 186.
Time series photos of the water hyacinth in the farm dam in Wantirna South. 'A' taken in December 2010 'B' taken in December 2011.
DEPI shuts the stable door on horsetails
The Shepparton Garden Show provided DEPI with a great opportunity to inform the local gardening public on the invasive nature of State prohibited weeds. Biosecurity Officers held a plant display and were pleased by the response of attendees who were eager to learn how to spot these high risk invasive plants.
A number of State prohibited weed reports were received at the show. Some of these were found to be look-a-like plants, others existing infestations which DEPI was aware of and are currently treating and monitoring.
One report turned up a new infestation for the region. After studying the display with some concern, one Shepparton local reported that he had horsetails growing in his garden. The landowner explained that many years ago his horsetails had been confined to a pot, but the roots had escaped over time and the plant had taken off in the garden as well.
A DEPI Biosecurity Officer visited the garden and found a 6m2 infestation – growing along and under the house, under the internal fence and around the air-conditioning unit. Staff removed the weed and a follow-up visit revealed one remaining shoot, which was also treated. The site will be monitored each season until eradication is achieved.
The horsetail infestation was the first found in the Goulburn Broken region. The weed had been at the property for about 10 years, fortunately it was never passed on to anyone else for further propagation.
If you think you have seen horsetails, please call DEPI on 136 186.
A snap shot of State prohibited weeds in the south west
Staff profile - Nicole Garfi
As the State prohibited weeds Biosecurity Officer for the Glenelg-Hopkins catchment, based at Hamilton, I have travelled extensively treating and monitoring these species. The catchment had 19 infestations when I began, including infestations of horsetails, alligator weed and hawkweeds.
The alligator weed infestation is in the Warrnambool region and was identified as being introduced by members of the community and planted as culinary herbs. Fortunately the south-western Victorian climate is not ideal for alligator weed which helped achieve successful eradication. Alligator weed can invade waterways, wetlands and agricultural land, causing significant impacts to production, amenity and the environment.
In the north east of the Glenelg-Hopkins catchment, around Beaufort and Ballarat, there are several hawkweed infestations dating back a number of years. The first was detected at a garage sale, while others occurred through trading at a local garden club. Hawkweeds contain a potent chemical which can be released into the soil, preventing the growth of surrounding plants. Hawkweed species dominate landscapes within a wide range of environmental conditions overseas, in countries with similar conditions to Victoria.
Due to continued treatment and monitoring by DEPI, nine of the State prohibited weed infestations have now been eradicated, which is a huge success for south-western Victoria.
If you think you have seen a State prohibited weed, please call DEPI on 136 186.