Madagascan Fireweed Alert

Flowers of the fireweed

Infestations of Madagascan Fireweed have previously been detected in Forde, Franklin, Chisholm, Casey, Lyneham, Crace and Coombs on public and private land.

Fireweed is very toxic to horses and cattle causing irreversible liver damage, with horses being the most susceptible. Death can occur up to six months after initial poisoning.

Fireweed can also:

* reduce the total grazing capacity of a property;
* decrease pasture production;
* decrease livestock growth rates; and
* incur high control costs.

The plant forms a persistent seed bank if not controlled before it flowers. It can also rapidly take over heavily grazed, neglected pastures, conservation areas and roadsides, competing strongly with existing plants. It seeds prolifically and grows to maturity quickly.

Fireweed reproduces almost exclusively by seed. Fireweed can alter its germination response, adapting its growing and flowering behaviours to suit changing environmental conditions.

Fireweed is a declared Pest Plant and a notifiable Pest Plant in the ACT under the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005 (the Act). Due to these declarations, a number of offences apply to the introduction of fireweed into the ACT.

It is illegal to intentionally or recklessly import a pest plant into the ACT, with fines being up to $7,500 for individuals or $37,500 for corporations. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly propagate a pest plant in the ACT.

It is an offence punishable by a maximum penalty ($3,000 for an individual, $15,000 for a corporation) for the occupier of a premises, where a notifiable plant exists, to treat the matter recklessly and not inform Territory and Municipal Services in writing within 48 hours of the existence of the notifiable plant.

Offences and penalties also exist for recklessly using machinery that may spread a pest plant and recklessly disposing of a pest plant in the Act.

Madagascan Fireweed sightings can be reported to Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or emailed to  Please take note of the exact location and include a photo of the plant for confirmation.

Flowers are 2 cm in diameter and have 12-15 petals. Photo: B. Trounce.

Serrated leaf margins of Fireweed. Photo: H. Rose.

Fireweed plant in Crace
Fireweed on naturestrip, Crace. Photo: J.Conolly