Snap an arum to boost our bush
Snap off an arum lily to boost our bush – that’s the message from Nature Conservation Margaret River Region as arum lilies reach peak flowering.
Nature Conservation’s Arum Lily Blitz is now in full swing as over 1600 landholders across the Capes Region join a suite of Friends groups, businesses and government agencies controlling arums across an area that now exceeds 20,000 hectares.
But it’s not just rural landholders who can help stop the march of arum lilies. The conservation group wants everyone from hikers in the bush and surfers at the beach to residents on their morning walk to snap off an arum flowers to stop the seeds developing.
“Everyone can help out, and that includes snapping off the flowering stem of the arum lily plant wherever you see one on your walks,” says Nature Conservation’s Biodiversity Officer Mike Griffiths, who coordinates the Arum Lily Blitz. “That will stop it going to seed and help to slow the spread of these invasive weeds. You could be hiking the Cape to Cape Track, heading to the beach for a surf, or just walking your dog around town – wherever you see an arum lily, snap off or pull out the flower to do your bit for the bush. It’s easy to do without touching the sap. And if you lay the flower stems on the edge of the track or clearing, it sends a message to visitors and others that these are problem plants”.
He added: “The plants will still keep growing, but removing each bud or flower prevents up to 500 seeds from developing and can make a real difference in slowing the spread until proper treatment can be carried out by trained volunteers or contractors.”
Already on board with the ‘snap an arum’ initiative is local ecotourism business Cape to Cape Explorer Tours, which runs weekly guided hiking tours on the Cape to Cape Track. Its guides and hikers have been busy removing flowering arum lilies they encounter over seven days of hiking from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, as well as spreading the word about the Arum Lily Blitz.
“The Track meanders along such a stunning coastline and through the most awe-inspiring wildflowers, orchids, forest and coastal heath packed with birdlife, reptiles and other fauna,” says Cape to Cape Explorer Tours founder Gene Hardy. “Arum lilies pose a very real threat to that, so we’re happy to do what we can to help the cause and spread the word.”
All parts of the arum plant including the flowers are poisonous and freshly broken stems should be handled with care to avoid contact with the sap, particularly contact with sensitive areas like eyes and mouth. Anyone handling cut or broken stems should wash hands immediately afterwards or wear gloves as a precaution if there is a possibility of contact with the sap.
Arum lilies are an introduced species from South Africa and are one of the major threats to biodiversity in our region. They outcompete wildflowers, degrade forests, and choke out understorey vegetation and crucial wildlife habitat with it. But the Arum Lily Blitz has been hitting back with a coordinated region-wide attack on arums, funded by the WA Government’s State Natural Resources Management Program until 2024. For landholders, the best time to control arum lilies is when 50-75 per cent of the plants are in flower which in our region is generally from August to November.
Mr Griffiths urged anyone doing arum lily spraying to tap into a wealth of resources including a spraying video tutorial and information on how to collect free herbicide www.natureconservation.org.au. All landholders are urged to join the Blitz, regardless of property size and experience level. To find out more and register visit www.natureconservation.org.au