The distinctive leaves and bright yellow flowers of the boneseed plant make the wicked weed easy to spot in spring and early summer, especially in the Southern Beaches at Dodges Ferry and surrounds where the destructive boneseed bushes are thriving.
Introduced to Australia from South Africa in the late 1800s as a garden plant, boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera) is a fast growing, aggressive plant that has spread from gardens to become a damaging environmental weed.
Boneseed plants produce up to 50,000 seeds that can be spread by birds, rabbits and other animals, or in fresh or salt water, on vehicles or equipment or in soil or garden waste. Boneseed invades native bushland and coastal dunes, smothering native plants.
But we can wage war against bone seed by removing bushes and seedlings to stop its pernicious spread. Southern Beaches Landcare Coastcare volunteers have been working to clear many patches in the Dodge Ferry area.
Once a year for more than ten years we’ve worked to clear the boneseed from a section of the Carlton Beach dunes where a fire had created perfect conditions for a boneseed take over.
Each spring, our volunteers tackle the same section of the dunes, gradually cutting out the boneseed bushes and pulling out sprouting plants, returning each year to deal with any newcomers and extend the boneseed-free area bit by bit.
Boneseed is a declared weed in Tasmania and must not be sold, transported, traded or planted. Property owners are required by law to control boneseed on their land.
To do your bit to curb the wicked weed, then:
Know what boneseed looks like – a woody, evergreen shrub with fleshy leaves with toothed edges and often white cottony down on younger leaves, bright yellow daisy flowers in spring followed by round green berries that ripen to black.
Remove boneseed safely – keep pulling out seedlings wherever you see them and just leave them to dry and rot on the spot; pull out younger plants by the roots before they flower or set seed or cut down lager plants at the base and apply herbicide to the stump, then leave where it lies to rot;
Be persistent – keep pulling out new growth until all dormant seeds have sprouted; look for boneseed on the beach paths, bush tracks and roadside verges near your home and keep removing seedlings.
Sea spurge is a very invasive weed – in a year a single plant can produce up to 5000 salt-tolerant seeds that can survive in sea water for seven years! Once established, the plants quickly take over dunes, changing the structure of the beach, displacing native plants and destroying habitat for shorebirds that use the beach for nesting.
Our dedicated volunteers have been removing sea spurge from the Southern Beaches area since 1991. In August each year we do a sea spurge survey and now use a GPS to record the location of any plants found. There is a lot less now but we still have to be vigilant.