Big event coming up next Friday the 7th of February at the Boolarra Memorial Hall. The Victorian Blackberry Taskforce Roadshow is coming to town and is a great opportunity for landholders in the Latrobe Valley and surrounding areas to get the latest on Blackberry control along with other weeds. The day included guest speakers and demonstrators from Chemical Companies (Dow and DuPont), DEPI, Victorian Blackberry Taskforce and a presentation on Biological Control.
We encourage any property managers that are dealing with Blackberries or other woody weeds in the Callignee/Traralgon South/Koornalla areas to attend.
Date: Thursday November 28th
Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Callignee Hall
Meet with other landholders and work towards a community wide approach to controlling Blackberries.
Learn more about the best methods to tackle Blackberries and other woody weeds.
Report on areas of Blackberry infestation that are of concern in your local area.
We want your input and involvement to help contribute towards more effective Blackberry control at your local level.
Formation of a local sub-group.
Woody Weeds Action Group (Central Gippsland) Inc. is a community group supported by the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce.
“Community partnership projects are geared towards providing community with greater ownership of blackberry management by developing joint projects between community and government and promoting local solutions.”
Spanish Heath(Erica lusitanica) is a spreading shrub that is very successful at sneakily spreading along our local roadsides and invading our bushland. It has a number of attributes that make it a very successful weed, it is able to spread by suckers as well as seed. It produces a prolific amount of seed with studies showing that a single plants can produce 9 million small dust like seeds annually (Blood 2001).
Once sold as a cut-flower now it is invading native bushland and roadsides
Large infestation that has spread over an embankment.
A large plant like this can produced millions of seeds a year.
Close up of small pink and white flowers
Spreading unchecked along a highway roadside.
The main reason it is able to prosper is that it is often mistaken for a native species, its foliage and growth habit have similarities to species such as Common Heath (Epacris impressa) which is Victoria’s floral emblem. If in doubt about whether or not the plant is Spanish Heath, you can contact the Local Shire or Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) for assistance. (Or submit a photo to this site).
Spanish Heath can be controlled by hand pulling plants, especially seedlings, although to avoid re-growth by suckering, it is important to remove all of the roots. Alternatively larger plants can be cut off at the base and treated with a herbicide (e.g. Glyphosate) as per the instructions on the label. Although there is no chemical registered in Victoria larger infestations can also be carefully sprayed “off label: using a suitable non-restricted herbicide (see your chemical supplier for recommendations).
Avoid slashing the heath as this will most likely encourage suckering and growth of the plant and possibly help spread the seeds. Be careful to dispose carefully of any Spanish Heath that has been removed, to avoid it spreading to new sites.
Many longtime landholders in the local district (not just in the areas that were burnt in 2009) have noticed the emergence of Fleabane (Conzya Sp.) as a dominant weed in areas, especially on roadsides and open areas. A common comment goes something along the lines of “I have never seen this weed before but now it is popping up everywhere” There are three species of this weed that are closely related. The most common one in this district seems to be Tall Fleabane – Conyza sumatrensis, which can grow up to 2m high. Unlike the closely related Flax-leaf Fleabane – Conzya bonariensis, which has multiple branches from the base, it has one main stem from the base with branches containing flower heads at the top of the stem.
Fleabane like many weeds is most likely to take hold in areas where there is bare soil or disturbance and less competition from other plants. The best way to control it is to prevent it seeding, as well as trying to maintain a thick ground cover of more desirable species. This could be done by hand pulling or herbicide for larger infestations, Some sources say that one Fleabane plant can produce over 100,000 seeds. It is a member of the Asteraceae (Daisy) family and like most species in that family the seeds are light and fluffy and can spread a long way when carried by the wind.
Conzya sumatrensis – Tall Fleabane, Showing the hairy stems.
Masses of Fleabane (Conzya sp.) in this disturbed area between a roadside and a logging Coupe.
Conzya sumatrensis – Tall Fleabane, Showing a leafy new branch.
Flower head (inflorescence) of Tall Fleabane (Conzya sumatrensis) each plant can produce many thousands of wind-blown seeds.
Conzya sumatrensis – Tall Fleabane, Growing in an open disturbed site. Note the singe stem from base, with the branched flower-heads.
Blackberry is one of the worst weeds in our district particularly in terms of its environmental impact, with its tendency to out-compete and choke native vegetation, and reduce habitat quality for native animals (e.g. restrict the movement of Koalas) . By law all landholders are required to make reasonable efforts to keep Blackberries under control. Where blackberries can be readily accessed conventional methods such as spraying with herbicides are still the recommended way to keep Blackberries in check.
The development and release several years ago of new strains of Blackberry Leaf Rust may work as an additional tool to help the overall battle against this weed. It is hoped that these new strains are more vigorous and have more of a negative impact on Blackberry growth. Blackberry Leaf Rust spreads by spores which are carried in the wind and it is thought that they can spread long distances. Their ability to spread should mean that after the initial introduction they should disperse out by themselves into sites that have suitable conditions for their growth. (It is impossible to tell by sight whether or not the rust you are looking at are the new strains of rust or the original ones).
Blackberry rust mainly impacts on fresh new growth and has less impact on older canes and leaves. The rust can cause leaves on new growth to curl up and die, preventing the tips of new stems from taking root and spreading. The damage the rust does to the plant can seem spectacular but it may take many years of repeated rust attacks to have a real impact on the Blackberry spread. There is hope however that the in the longer term the impact of the rust on the blackberry foliage can allow more opportunity for native plants to grow and re-establish in areas where Blackberry is currently thriving.
The rust is not tolerant of drought or hot dry conditions, sites where the rust does best tend to be higher rainfall areas (e.g > 750mm per annum) that have part shade and protection from drying winds. It will also persist better in sites that have larger infestations of Blackberry, meaning that where smaller patches exist every effort should be make to remove them by other methods. The best time to see the impact that rust may be having on your site is early autumn.
Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group – Has a new direction.
The Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group (CGWWAG) is now in its third year and is continuing the community driven battle against Blackberry and other woody weeds such as Gorse and Broom. Initially formed as part of bushfire recovery based efforts to get on top of returning weeds, the group is expanding its reach to surrounding areas and aims to be a support network for landholders facing the task of managing invasive weeds on their properties. The group’s operations are based on the Community Weed Model which has been used successfully in Victoria to control Serrated Tussock, Gorse and Ragwort.
The aim of the group is to reduce the growth and spread of blackberry on private land, and also on public/private land boundaries, by working together with all land managers to implement appropriate control measures. To achieve this we are seeking to connect with landholders to help us identify infestations in your area, to let us know if you have a successful control program on your property or to discuss difficulties you may have.
Ian Ewart the groups Chair says that “Landholders can follow their neighbours and sign up for a voluntary three-year agreement, where they agree to take certain actions to manage Blackberry on their properties, if everyone agrees to do their bit we can ease the on-going negative impacts that the spread of these weeds have. We aim to find ways to assist people to do this in any way we can.”
David Akers has been engaged as Project Officer and is keen to hear from landholders in the group’s focus area, which is the northern part of the Strzelecki Ranges between Callignee and Boolarra. David will focus on touching base with the many landholders who have already taken up Management Agreements and done works to control Blackberry to date. He is also keen to work with people who are keen to join in and do their bit to control weeds in their neighbourhood.
Blackberry is a noxious weed that is a major threat to both agricultural production and the natural environment. Immediate control is imperative to achieve the community’s desire for long term, permanent control of this plant in the Central Gippsland Area.
The Callignee/Traralgon South Landcare Group’s spray unit is available for anyone in the district to borrow for weed control purposes. It has a 400 litre tank and two spray hoses that have a reach of about 70m. Get in now and spray your Blackberry and other weeds this year, for more information about borrowing the spray unit or if you want advice on Blackberry and woody weed control, contact the Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group (CGWWAG)