a handful of weeds
Really?? Yes, really! This attractive little orchid is one of many plants of South African origin that thrive here and pose significant threats to our biodiversity.
Be careful NOT to confuse it with our indigenous Onion Orchid or Leek Orchid. They are somewhat similar but there are ways to identify the difference. If you are not completely confident in identification, we urge you to seek expert advice before uprooting anything. We also urge you to do this before seed sets. Feel free to email us images and we'll help.
Key features of South African Weed Orchid, Disa Bracteata:
1. Multiple leaves at the base
2. The leaves of young plants have a distinct reddish colour to the underside (not to be confused with indigenous Sun Orchids!)
3. Much 'stockier' than indigenous Onion and Leek Orchids (see pic)
4. Flowers are greenish with purpley-brown hoods and yellow 'tongues'
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND ONE:
1. If flowers have been pollinated and are ready to drop seed, cover with a plastic bag and seal firmly BEFORE HANDLING so no seed drops to the ground. The seeds are tiny, dust like, and prolific.
2. Dig up the tuber - mature plants have two - one plump and one shrivelled
3. Destroy the plant - microwaving is effective - be sure there's no chance it will have survived.
Look around the area - they can be hard to spot! Where's there's one, there's likely more.
Inform Council of their location - and if it's in Parks Victoria land, give them a call.
If you search online for South African Weed Orchid in Victoria, lots more info will come up.
Above: Juvenile and mature plants
Young plant with distinct red underside of leaves and plump tuber
Above: On the left is Disa Bracteata weed, on the right is the indigenous orchid
If the weed you're tackling is Boneseed, then you can sing a little song of joy... for although it is a weed of National Significance, it's relatively easy to deal with and your actions will quickly make a significant difference. It's fairly straightforward to identify, but please do email us if you need support. This time of year its yellow daisy-like flowers will be seen, or it will be bearing abundant seed... or it might be doing both. The plant is sturdy looking with somewhat fleshy leaves. See pictures...
The best thing to do is remove by hand - young ones are usually easy to pull out if you grab the main stem close to the ground. To avoid soil disturbance as much as possible, if you can, use your foot or other hand to press down on the soil while pulling up with the other. Be sure to plant something indigenous in its place, or sprinkle some indigenous seeds in the area and do what you can to help them grow. Weeds will often colonise a disturbed patch - Boneseed is just one of many - so it's good practice to get in early.
Make sure you appropriately dispose of any seed - this means only non-seed bearing plants/branches can be left on the ground and all seed (even if not completely mature) must be collected. Be wary of dragging bigger bushes along the ground for damage is often done. Click here to see a flyer that provides valuable information, is brief enough to bring a smile to impatient readers, and goes into enough detail for you to consider your specific situation. It also provides suggestions for how to deal with larger plants and/or extensive infestations.
Acanthus is a distinct plant with large textured leaves that are lobed and toothed. These grow from a central point at ground level, with numerous stems/leaves emerging from its extremely hardy and sizeable tuberous roots. These plants will rapidly multiply from seed and roots.
To remove, you will need to dig fairly deeply to ensure every piece of root is extracted as they can readily grow from small segments.
As always, we encourage care when digging around any indigenous vegetation, and replant with indigenous species as soon as possible.
As with agapanthus and other flowering weeds, removing the flower heads before they produce seed is one way to at reduce reproduction. We are experimenting with more efficient methods of removal, and will update as we go.
Please email us with ideas or successes (and 'failures'!).
NEAT FEATHER MOSS
Concerns for the impacts of Neat Feather Moss (introduced to Australia) ramped up many years ago. Recently we received the excellent suggestion to feature it here. Many wonder how such a delicate plant poses a significant problem. The reasons are many, but primarily, it spreads easily and quickly, and smothers a diversity of life - particularly forest understorey including native mosses, orchids, lilies , various germinants (that's not German ants, but itty bitty young plants), and more. It is also known to impact the reproductive opportunities of some birds and almost certainly other creatures too.
Some native mosses - of which there are more than 900 in Australia - are somewhat similar in appearance. Click here for a UK website that gives ID info for NFM. Keep a look out for it, become familiar with all mosses in your area and beyond, and if you have any doubt about identification, DON'T pull anything out - send us an email with photographs and we will do what we can to help with ID. email@example.com
There are many national and local articles about this moss. HERE is a brief one from 2018 in Australian Geographic, and a local one HERE from around this time of year, almost 20 years ago (!) We don't endorse the use of chemicals like glyphosate as described in the article. Extensive research demonstrates how persistent these chemicals are, and the damaging effects on diverse organisms. Try safer/more sensitive methods and let us know how you go, and be sure you don't disperse it via shoes/clothes etc.
Above - Neat Feather Moss
Below - Australian Hypnum Moss Species
Other worthwhile resources include:
Mosses, liverworts, fungi and lichens Cryptogamic organisms of Melbourne’s Middle Yarra region
Mosses of dry forests in south eastern Australia by by Cassia Read and Bernard Slattery
A Field Guide to the Mosses and Allied Plants of Southern Australia (if you can find a copy)
Oxalis species are a persistent and challenging weed to tackle so early intervention, as always, makes a big difference. A key advantage oxalis has developed over its long evolution is a stubborn little corm, or underground energy bag, which is very difficult to successfully pull out even in fairly friable soils, let alone Nillumbik's typical clay-rock. There are MANY species - several hundred - and just a few are native to Australia. Many of the invasive species are easy to identify. The one you can see here, with bright pink flowers and fairly large leaves that grow close to the ground, spreads very rapidly. We are gathering information on effective control methods, and making comparisons... so please email us with successes or failures you have had.
Here's a brief extract from a Council document that's worth a look... 'English Ivy is aggressive and destructive to trees and vegetation in our backyards, roadsides and bushland. It is highly invasive and once established can eliminate most native plants and kill our trees. Although English Ivy looks like a lovely, lush green plant, it can actually smother trees, accelerate rot, attract mosquitoes and cause weakened mature trees to fall down during storms.'
At the very least, grab your loppers and secateurs, and help make a difference! Look out for little seedlings too - easy to identify by their leaf shape - and easy to pull out. You might find them growing in little clusters.
For more details click here
CLICK HERE to go to iNaturalist website where you can see many images of different forms of Ivy for easy ID.
Thanks to iNaturalist for the photo above.
Bridal Creeper, the Grim Reeper ... hence more-than-one-month-focus!
1. This plant is an incredible specimen of evolutionary refinement,
making it an extremely challenging weed. Read on for the essentials...
2. This time of year, depending on location within Nillumbik, you'll see
Bridal Creeper emerging with its wiry vine-stem, often quite sturdy.
Its leaves might be tiny and barely visible, or it may display its fully
grown (approx 3cm long) impressively glossy bright green leaves.
3. It might be mistaken for our native Clematis, or perhaps the
wonderful Dodder. IF YOU ARE UNSURE - don't pull it out. Ask
someone who knows for sure.
If you don't know someone who can help with ID, email us some pics.
4. Bridal Creeper is the Grim Reeper because of its capacity to
completely smother and push out other vegetation. It does so
above AND below ground.
It can grow in really wet to really dry areas, and where other plants
struggle, like under pine trees.
5. Its root system is memorable - starting from a little seed, it grows one
little corm or tuber in the shape of a short, pointy ended cylinder.
These are white to translucent, and juicy. One of these will sustain a
plant over summer, multiplying below ground in staggering density
and number. We have seen wheelbarrow-sized 'mats' of these tubers.
6. REMOVAL is very complex - BUT there is a simple way to make a
really significant difference!!
Whenever you spot a Bridal Creeper vine PULL IT FIRMLY,
CUTTING IT CLOSE TO THE BASE. This prevents that stem from
setting seed and also weakens the plant. We have tried this over many
seasons, and it does make a difference.
7. IF you are sure that surrounding vegetation is also a weed, you
can dig it out - but this takes practice and care to ensure all corms are
removed. It's also important to REPLACE IT with an indigenous plant
and prevent soil erosion in the disturbed area.
8. We strongly discourage the use of chemicals such as roundup.
Contact us for details and/or see this page on the ALA website
Images show bridal creeper's typical growth habit at this time of year, with its sturdy but wiry stems often growing over/with indigenous plants such as Clematis as seen in top pic, along with bracken. Glossy leaves that start small and grow to about 20-40mm long and 15 wide, and the white part of the stem below ground (evident when pulled out) are distinct features. These stems grow from little whitish corms, older plants develop MANY corms.
Click on images for a little more detail. A simple internet search will show you innumerable more photos.
1. Easy to identify this time of year - distinct large
flowerhead, purpley-blue or white flowers.
2. Spreads rapidly via seed and below-ground corms
3. Chokes out other vegetation - devastating in the bush
4. BEST ACTION NOW - REMOVE ALL
FLOWERHEADS BEFORE THEY SET SEED.
GRAB YOUR SNIPS AND CHOP CHOP CHOP!!!
5. Ensure seed is disposed of appropriately so it does
not spread elsewhere.
6. You can dig it out .... it'll be a big job if plants are well
established. Extensive root system may require repeated
attempts. The process will cause a fair bit of disturbance, so
care is needed - then replace with lomandra, dianella,
goodenia, and other indigenous species.
7. We urge you to avoid the use of chemicals - there are
some that are more environmentally friendly than others.
A quick internet search will give you info, or email us.
8. We know agapanthus is popular in Nillumbik as it is hardy
[increasing its survival rate in the bush], and requires
minimal maintenance. If you have these plants at your
place, or you know of others who do, please at least get rid
o the seeds. You will be making a significant difference,
reducing the spread of this invasive plant.
9. WELL DONE! Write to us - we'd love to hear about it!
This page shows a selection of weeds found in Nillumbik. There are MANY more!
Some are really common and significantly impact indigenous flora and fauna.
Others are not commonly seen but pose a significant threat due to their potential spread and impact.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you are sure of correct identification before removing plants.
If in any doubt, DO NOT pull anything out - seek help. You can email us.
Many indigenous plants are easily confused with similar looking weedy species.
Many indigenous plants might look like a weed because they are quite different to what we might assume is a 'local' looking plant.
Sometimes, it takes a botanical expert to determine the species!
It is also important to understand the effects of weed removal - and develop a plan to address these effects.
Often, weeds do provide shelter and food for indigenous animals. Weeds can also prevent erosion.
When weeds are removed, the sunlight patterns change, which can promote more weedy growth, or dry out areas that retained greater moisture.
Sometimes their removal will also make it easier for invasive fauna species such as deer to move through that area and cause further damage.
We'd be happy to hear from you with questions/concerns you have.