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Stay on top of spring weeds

Monday, 20 October 2014 10:00 a.m.

Landowners are being encouraged to take a second look at spring growth and get ahead of pasture and garden weeds by taking action now.

“Spring is a good time to spot new weeds and control plant pests like Italian buckthorn, woolly nightshade, lantana, wild ginger, and green goddess lily,” said Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Andrew Blayney.

He said that Bay of Plenty landowners or occupiers are responsible for controlling those weeds on their own properties.

“Weed control is cheaper and easier if it’s done before the pest plants set seed later in summer.  Otherwise the seeds can be easily spread by wind, birds, rain or machinery and the problem can become bigger.”

“We need everyone to do their bit so that the unwanted plants don’t take over the region’s farms, orchards, gardens and natural areas. Regional Council can help with advice on identification, control methods and herbicide,” Mr Blayney said.

Mr Blayney is also asking locals to let the Regional Council know if they see any pest plants that seem unusual or that they haven’t seen before.

“Alligator weed, horse nettle and Noogoora bur are particularly nasty pasture weeds that could create problems and expense for farmers if they become established. We need to keep them out of Bay of Plenty, so if they’re found anywhere in the region we’ll come and control those particular weeds at no cost to the landowner,” said Mr Blayney.

Alligator weed is an aquatic perennial that can also grow in pastures and crops. It has long, creeping, hollow, green or red tinged stems and waxy green leaves. The flowers are white and clover-like.

Horse nettle is a perennial with conspicuous spines on leaves and stems and clusters of star-shaped, five-petalled flowers that are white-violet in colour with a yellow centre. It can be found in pasture, on roadsides and forest margins. It produces a berry which is green when immature and later becomes yellow and wrinkled.

Noogoora bur is an annual herb that grows up to 2m high as either a single stem or bush. It has maple-like leaves and forms clusters of burs at its leaf nodes that can stick to animal fur, machinery and clothing.

Maintaining good pasture cover year round is a method that Regional Council recommends for farmers to stop weeds such as thistles and gorse from getting a foothold on their farms this summer.

“Farmers sometimes attempt to control weeds through heavy grazing. But if the pasture becomes too thin, weed seeds can be trampled into the ground and take hold in any bare patches. Chemical control is the best bet for significant weed infestations and it’s worth considering use of more drought-tolerant pasture varieties like chicory or plantain, instead of rye grass, to maintain good pasture cover during summer,” Mr Blayney said.

Pest plant identification and control information is available online at or by calling a Land Management Officer on 0800 884 880. 

Horse Nettle

Horse nettle is an unwanted pasture weed. If you see it, please report it to Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Wolly Nightshade PLant