Jun­gle vine hunt is on

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

Flashy scar­let flow­ers are the trade­mark of a South Amer­i­can jun­gle vine threat­en­ing to smother na­tive bush around Welling­ton.

Bo­marea cal­dasii is on Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil’s list of pest plants. The hunt for it is across the re­gion and GWRC staff need your help to find it.

Biose­cu­rity of­fi­cer Ben Win­der said the yel­low-red trum­pet-like flow­ers and lush leaves once made bo­marea a pop­u­lar or­na­men­tal plant in gar­den cen­tres.

‘‘How­ever, its ram­pant growth and abil­ity to smother and col­lapse even large trees has led to it be­ing banned from sale. It is also il­le­gal to prop­a­gate or dis­trib­ute.’’

Flow­ers later turn into bright orange fleshy berries. Birds eat the berries and seeds and spread the plant. Bo­marea is shadetol­er­ant and can take over all lev­els of a for­est canopy in­clud­ing the ground. Once it has climbed up a tree it cre­ates a huge dense mass of veg­e­ta­tion that can weigh the tree down and top­ple it over.

It does not al­low any other species to grow due to cre­at­ing low light and its thick root sys­tems. Bo­marea is a real prob­lem in other parts of New Zealand such as Can­ter­bury, where it is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing es­tab­lished in na­tive for­est.

‘‘There is no rea­son why it will not do the same here un­less we do some­thing about it,’’ Mr Win­der said. ‘‘It has the po­ten­tial to take over and de­stroy our na­tive bush ar­eas around Welling­ton and Wairarapa.’’

The plant is dif­fi­cult to kill as it grows a mass of fleshy un­der­ground roots. A new plant is ca­pa­ble of grow­ing from a frag­ment of this root ma­te­rial, and the dump­ing of gar­den rub­bish is one way it is spread.

‘‘We rely a lot on the pub­lic to help us out by let­ting us know of sites,’’ Mr Win­der said.

‘‘With peo­ple’s help, we may be able to keep this pest plant in check.’’

Pub­lic en­emy: The re­gional coun­cil needs the com­mu­nity’s help to stamp out this all-smoth­er­ing jun­gle vine.

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