Weeding out the weeds
With its fine, delicate silky hairs, a densely tufted perennial grass is slowly choking our once pristine native grasslands. As an aggressive invader it colonises, creating a dense monoculture of exotic weeds. This feral weed now dominates our urban nature strips and roadside verges.
There is nothing to love about African Love Grass.
Introduced from its native Africa to these humble shores in the 19th century, either through misadventure or as a pasture feed by misguided pastoralists, history tells us this grassy weed has absolutely no nutritional value to hungry stock. Moreover, it is an ecological blight upon the environment.
It’s just plain nasty.
Given its ascendency, containment is now key to its control. It will never be eradicated from our landscape. While herbicides offer some respite in controlling its spread, the best hope for containment is a combination of chemical treatment and having healthy, competitive native grasses and pastures.
Spreading like wild fire, African Love Grass is volatile. It is an emerging fire fuel threat to the bush capital. It burns hot even if it’s green. Coupled with climate change, it has already extended the hazardous bushfire season.
As a tangible biosecurity threat, our diligence to preventing its spread is now a collective, community responsibility.
We are taking proactive steps to ensure vehicle hygiene. Urban mowing operations are known to spread this weed, so mowers are thoroughly cleaned to ensure they are as free of weeds and seeds as possible before moving on.
You can also play your part by not inadvertently giving African Love Grass a free ride.
Before heading out to one of our beautiful nature reserves or national parks, check your walking boots. Check your camping gear. Nasty seeds can lurk in the crevices of everyday pieces of hiking gear. Mud in the rim of a tyre carries seeds. Please wash your car’s underbody thoroughly, not just the duco on top.
It’s the little things we can all do today that will make a big difference tomorrow.
African Love Grass, Serrated Tussock and St John’s Wort are our priority weeds, but over the last six months more than 80 invasive species have been controlled across more than 4000 hectares of the conservation estate. Innovative weed control methods include all-terrain vehicles and drones.
Our Rangers and wonderful Park Care Volunteers have been putting their collective shoulder to the ever ongoing weed control wheel. Please join them.
Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks Conservation Service.
Article also appeared on 5 February 2019 in The Chronicle