CREEPING DEVIL: Bellingen Shire has declared war on Columbian waxweed and is determined to wipe it out.
CREEPING DEVIL: Bellingen Shire has declared war on Columbian waxweed and is determined to wipe it out. Bellingen Shire Council

Evil cousin spreading Columbian curse

PEST eradication may not be a "sexy” council activity but it's one Bellingen Shire's noxious weed inspectors take seriously.

Particularly in the ongoing battle to contain the spread of highly invasive species like tropical soda apple and white blackberry.

Potentially far more serious for landholders has been the arrival over the past five years of Columbian waxweed, a small, woody shrub no more than 50cm high that has been dubbed by some as fireweed's "evil cousin”.

This latest pest takes a radical course when invading productive pastures.

It rapidly produces thousands of viable seeds, profoundly altering the integrity of the area it invades, resulting in limiting stocking rates and out-competing desirable species.

For some reason it's taken a strong liking to the Hastings and Bellingen areas.

So Bellingen Mayor Dominic King has taken an even stronger dislike to it.

"Our productive lands are extremely desirable and the envy of many in the state,” he said.

"Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 all landholders have a general duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise the biosecurity risk and this goes for all weed species.”

Right now Columbian waxweed is in full flower, showing small purple-pink star-shaped flowers.

After having a favourable summer it is just about due to produce many hard, small black seeds, which will be spread by floods, machinery and ducks.

Baling infested paddocks and moving the weed further around is believed to be a major cause of spreading the weeds.

"All people baling their paddocks preparing for winter fodder should be aware of this,” Cr King said.

"Knowingly moving or selling infected bales is a serious offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

"Buyers should remain vigilant and leave bales together for several weeks before moving around.”

If you have seen any of these plants or need more information phone 6655 7300.



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