Madagascan Fireweed Alert

ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services

FIREWEED ALERT

A new infestation of Fireweed has been discovered recently in Moncrieff. Over 70 plants have been removed. As with previous sites, this infestation is suspected to have arrived in contaminated soil from Fireweed affected areas interstate.

Fireweed is a highly invasive ‘daisy like’ plant with bright yellow flowers and 13 petals.

It produces fluffy, wind borne seeds and can produce tens of thousands of viable seeds.

Fireweed is a major threat to biodiversity and agriculture. It can cause irreversible liver damage to horses and cattle. It can reduce the total grazing capacity of a property. It will rapidly take over roadsides, pasture (grazed or not) and competes strongly with existing plants in parks and nature reserves, resulting in high control costs.

To help prevent the spread of Fireweed, report sightings to Biosecurity and Rural Services on 6207 3587 or email act.ruralservices@act.gov.au. Alternatively, contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81. Please note the exact location and include a photo of the plant for identification confirmation.

You can also remove Fireweed yourself by pulling it out by hand. Be sure to wear gloves as it can irritate the skin. Double bag the weed and dispose of the bag with your regular rubbish (not recycled or green waste).

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 canberranaturemap.org. 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