Victorian tea tree on woody weed hit list
Victorian Teatree is the latest problem weed tree that being targeted now in Nature Conservation Margaret River Region’s Woody Weeds Campaign.
The worst weedy trees in the region are in the firing line as part of the two-year campaign, with everyone from suburban gardeners to bush block owners urged to help stop the spread from gardens to neighbouring properties and surrounding bushland.
The Woody Weeds Campaign is targeting certain weedy trees including Victorian Teatree, Sweet Pittosporum, Sydney Golden Wattle, Flinders Range Wattle, Blackwood and even olives because they pose big problems for the forest and wetlands and are regarded among the worst environmental weeds in Australia.
Nature Conservation’s biodiversity officer Mike Griffiths says Victorian Teatree, also known as Coastal Teatree, originates from south-eastern Australia and was introduced as a garden plant and for screening and wind breaks. Now, it’s a major weed in local bushland. “It’s a tall shrub or small tree growing up to six metres. You can identify it by the sprays of white flowers from July to October, solid trunks with strips of bark and small, rounded leaves which are a distinctive grey-green colour,” he said. “It loves sandy and gravel soils and thrives in coastal areas and roadsides. The flowers look similar to a couple of southwest native species but it’s a lot taller than any of our local tea trees with much thicker trunks.”
When plants are disturbed by clearing, grading or fire, swathes of seedlings germinate prolifically. Huge numbers of seeds are also spread by wind, vehicles, water and garden refuse, allowing the plant to spread rapidly and form dense stands that outcompete native species and degrade coastal heath vegetation, woodlands and forest. They’re a common sight along many local roadsides, such as Bussell Hwy heading south to Augusta.
Mike continued: “This weedy tree is more of a problem in our region than most people realise. We really want everyone to recognise it and help stop the spread. Once you’ve confidently identified it, you can either hand-pull seedlings or remove larger shrubs with a pruning saw, then paint the trunk with herbicide to stop it re-sprouting. Bigger jobs may need qualified contractors or the Nature Conservation on-ground team, but it’s worth it when you think of how much you’re helping the surrounding bushland.”
To learn more, there’s a comprehensive Victorian Teatree identification and removal video by following the links at www.natureconservation.org.au
“If you have woody weeds on your property, we really encourage you to remove them because one tree can rain seed over a large area in just a few years,” Mike says. “Instead, replace them with local natives, which complement our bushland and will be beneficial for our wildlife.”
The Woody Weeds Campaign is funded by the WA Government’s State Natural Resource Management Program, and includes funding on a 50-50 cost sharing basis with landholders located in selected areas close to high priority bushland, reserves or national parks. To enquire about grant funding, email [email protected] or see www.natureconservation.org.au for more information.