Alligator weed poses a serious threat to local waterways, environments and even human health.
Alligator weed poses a serious threat to local waterways, environments and even human health.

'World's worst' weed on coast

A NEW weed is on the march across the region.

The highly invasive aquatic plant, alligator weed, has been found at Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, sparking fears it may be spreading throughout the region.

Coffs Harbour Council’s chief weeds officer, Barry Powells, said the weed was one of the world’s worst and posed a serious threat to the health of all North Coast waterways as well as to agriculture.

“It is an extremely difficult weed to control and I advise anyone who suspects they may have this weed growing on their property to contact me immediately at the council on 6648 4889 to arrange an inspection,” Mr Powells said.

“I am only too happy to work with any landowner unfortunate enough to have such a potentially problematic weed on their property.”

Alligator weed can be found both in waterways and on land and grows equally well in both environments.

The original Coffs Harbour infestation was found in the grounds of a local school growing in dry soil next to a building.

A more recent infestation was found in a local suburban garden.

Alligator weed is also very similar to an Asian herb called mukunawanna.

“However, if people are growing alligator weed by mistake and thinking it is mukunawanna, there is a potential danger to their health as, unlike the herb, it accumulates hazardous heavy metals including cadmium and copper that stay in the body and can damage vital organs,” Mr Powells said.

The principal identifying features of alligator weed are a hollow stem, spear-shaped leaves in opposite pairs along the stem and a papery, white, ball-like flower. Effective control is difficult and can take many years. Alligator weed will grow under moist conditions from any small fragment broken off from a parent plant, which means it is very easily spread. An alligator weed brochure, which clearly shows how to identify the plant, is available from the reception desk at the council’s main administrative centre or by going to www.northcoastweeds. org.au.



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