Central Tablelands has new high-priority weed

Central Tablelands LLS declares sticky nightshade a priority weed

Cropping
Jake Walkom with a sticky nightshade plant on a Panuara property that has recently been sprayed. Birds and foxes eat the red berries.

Jake Walkom with a sticky nightshade plant on a Panuara property that has recently been sprayed. Birds and foxes eat the red berries.

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A South American spiny form of nightshade has established itself on the Central Tablelands.

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A SPINY form of nightshade (Solanum sisymbriifloium), or sticky nightshade, has been declared a priority weed for the Central Tablelands by Local Land Services.

While at the moment mostly concentrated around the Panuara area, single plants have now started popping up on roadsides around Lucknow, Mudgee and Bathurst.

Locals reckon it's worth than blackberries, because even roaming goats don't touch it.

It can be spread by birds, foxes and root fragmentation.

"It has an extensive root system," said Central Tablelands LLS regional weeds co-ordinator Marita Sydes.

"If you cultivate and break the root system, you'll likely have a few more plants," she said.

"And it can transport on machinery, such has hay-making equipment, slashers and earthmoving equipment."

But the most common form of transport is birds, which eat its red berries, and outbreaks are often found on fencelines or under trees.

Ms Sydes said Central Tablelands LLS was the first in the state to declare sticky nightshade part of its regional weedplan.

A statewide hotspot for the weed is western Sydney, starting from the Richmond/Windsor area and heading towards the city.

In the Central Tablelands the core infestation area has been identified as an area bounded by roads:

  • South-east of Cargo Rd between Canowindra and Cargo.
  • South of Edinboro Rd, Charleville Rd, Four Mile Creek Rd, Cadia Rd, Orchard Rd, Forest Rd, Whiley Rd and Millthorpe Rd.
  • West of Millthorpe Rd between Millthorpe and Blayney.
  • North of the Mid-Western Highway and George Russell Drive from Canowindra to Blayney.

Ms Sydes said the core infestation area was established to nominate where eradication would be an "unrealistic management objective".

The rest of the Central Tablelands has been declared an exclusion zone.

Within the core infestation area land managers are expected to reduce the impact of sticky nightshade on assets such as pastures, remnant bushland and river corridors.

Duncan Clowes, Valdemar, Millthorpe has been treating the weed on leased land near Panuara.

He first sprayed it with Dicamba in March and then, a couple of weeks later, realised there had been little or no effect.

On June 19 he hit it again with Dicamba and Graze-On and as of this week it had "yellowed up nicely".

Mr Clowes said five years ago he used to come across plants every now and then, but in the past two years it seemed to have found a real foothold.

Ms Sydes said she thought, given the drought conditions and a lack of groundcover, it may have appeared more prominently in the landscape in the past two years.

"Then we had summer rain events and it seems to have got going."

The weed, a native of South America, has now established itself in Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.

How it found its way to the Central Tablelands is the subject of some debate, but many people think it arrived in fodder from another region.

Ms Sydes said anyone who thought they had identified plants on their property should contact their local council weeds officer.

She said the plant was now listed on the Department of Primary Industries' WeedWise web site.

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