Beware the Madagascan Fireweed!

Madagascan Fireweed

CANBERRA’S Biosecurity Manager Stephen Hughes is asking us all to keep our eyes peeled for the Madagascan Fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) which has been detected in Forde, Franklin, Chisholm, Casey, Lyneham and Crace.

“Infestations of Madagascan Fireweed have been detected in recently laid couch turf in nature strips and other public and private land in the area. It is thought the weed was brought into the ACT as seeds in the imported couch turf,” Stephen Hughes, Biosecurity Manager said.

“ACT Government weed management staff are undertaking a program to control the weed incursion as quickly as possible and remove the plants before it flowers and its seeds spread.

“Our weeds team will be conducting further surveys to determine the extent of the infestation and will also conduct letterbox drops and erect signage to inform local residents.

“Madagascan Fireweed is a small multi-stemmed daisy-like plant with bright yellow flowers often with 13 petals. It is often 10 to 60 centimetres tall. Like a daisy, the weed produces fluffy wind borne seeds. Plants can produce tens of thousands of seeds, making it highly invasive.

“A major concern is the toxicity of Madagascan Fireweed to horses and grazing livestock. If ingested it can cause liver damage in these animals similar to the effects of toxins found in Paterson’s Curse.

“Madagascan Fireweed is considered one of the most damaging weeds to grazing land and the environment. It initially invades land along roadsides before spreading into neighbouring pastures and nature reserves. Locating and eradicating the weed quickly will save the ACT significant expenditure in future weed control and protect our native fauna and grazing lands.

“Due to its bright yellow flowers, Madagascan Fireweed is likely to be noticed by passing motorists. I urge residents to report Madagascan Fireweed and help us manage the infestation. Residents who remove this weed should wear gloves, as it can irritate the skin, and double bag the weed when disposing of it to ensure it is not spread further.

“The ACT Government is reminding local businesses and residents that it is illegal to intentionally or recklessly import a pest plant into the ACT, with fines being up to $5,500. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly propagate a pest plant in the ACT.”

Madagascan Fireweed sightings can be emailed to fireweed@act.gov.au or reported to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81. Take note of the exact location of the sighting and include a photo of the plant for confirmation. For more information about weeds, visit the Weeds of National Significance website at www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/fireweed/

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