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).
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.