Do your bit to help wipe out Woolly nightshade in the Bay of Plenty

During the month of November we’re asking everyone across the region to take personal responsibility to help stop the spread of Woolly nightshade.  It’s a nasty plant and spreads very quickly so if we all make it our goal to individually pull up just one seedling or control just one plant, it all makes a difference.

Why is it a pest?

  • It forms dense stands which crowd out all other plants.
  • It flowers and seeds all year-round.
  • Birds eat the berries and can spread the seeds long distances.
  • Seedlings established in summer can produce seeds by autumn in the same year.
  • Seeds in the soil can germinate up to 20-30 years later.
  • The dust from the leaves and stems can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat.
  • The berries are poisonous to humans, cattle and pigs if eaten.

How you can help

  • Keep an eye out for the young seedlings & simply pull them out.
  • Remember that touching the leaves & stems can sometimes cause irritations so use gloves
  • Send in your story (and a photo) to to be recognised as a ‘Woolly Nightshade Winner’. There are lots of spot prizes to be won*
  • Contact our Customer Services team to talk about getting a “Woolly nightshade treatment kit” and a demonstration from one of our team on how to best to control them.
  • Call the customer contact team 6am – 6pm on 0800 884 880 to register your details or email
  • The activity this month is focused on helping people to take personal responsibility for controlling Woolly nightshade.
  • If your neighbour has Woolly nightshade tell them about this activity and encourage them to get involved.

Where is it found?

  • Woolly nightshade can grow in a large range of areas including:
    • gullies, roadsides, farms, and wasteland, along with pastoral land, native forest margins, and urban areas – anywhere that birds visit
  • Woolly nightshade is established and widespread throughout Tauranga and surrounding areas.
  • Smaller infestations exist in eastern Bay of Plenty and the aim is to reduce these.
  • Further inland woolly nightshade is only found in isolated pockets

What does Woolly nightshade look like?

  • It is quite distinctive with all parts of the plant covered in dusty hairs, and whitish, branching, soft-woody stems.
  • Dense clusters of mauve to purple flowers year-round, followed by clusters of round berries that ripen from green to dull yellow.
  • Leaves have a strong astringent kerosene like smell especially when rubbed or crushed.
  • Spreading, shrub or small tree which grows up to 10m tall
Woolly nightshade

How to get rid of it

Wear gloves and a mask if undertaking woolly nightshade control for extended periods.
Keep checking for new seedlings or regrowth as seeds can like dormant in the ground for 30 – 40 years.


  • Seedlings and small plants can easily be pulled up or dug out.
  • Shake off excess soil and either leave on the ground or put in with the green waste


  • Most suitable for a large number of smaller plants
  • Ensure thorough coverage of the plants with a light spray
  • With a knapsack use triclopyr/picloram mix (eg Tordon brushkiller) - 60ml per 10L water
  • With a handgun use triclopyr/picloram mix (eg Tordon brushkiller) – 300ml/100L water

Cut & paste

  • Cut the plants down as close to the ground as possible
  • Use the cut & paste herbicide provided following instructions included
  • Alternative herbicide is glyphosate (e.g. Roundup) at 1 part glyphosate to 4 parts water.
  • Use at any time of the year for scattered plants

Stem frilling and injecting

  • Refer to the video for detailed instructions on this technique
  • Can be used at any time of year for larger plants
  • It is important that all cuts overlap for this technique to work
  • Recommended herbicide is glyphosate (e.g. Roundup) used at full strength

The woolly nightshade lacebug has been released in some parts of the Bay of Plenty since 2011. It will take some time for this to become widespread and effectiveness will continue to be monitored.