South Amer­i­can in­vader

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - WAIKATO WEEDWATCH

Woolly night­shade, also known as to­bacco weed, is a cap­sicum-smelling South Amer­i­can in­vader that can par­tic­u­larly dam­age farm pas­ture and pre­vent the es­tab­lish­ment of na­tive plants be­side wa­ter­ways.

It can also pose a threat to hu­man and soil health. Un­for­tu­nately it has made it­self right at home in the north­ern ar­eas of New Zealand and is seek­ing to ex­pand its ter­ri­tory fur­ther down the coun­try wher­ever it can find a cli­mate pocket that suits.

It seems to es­pe­cially love con­di­tions in the Waikato as it can grow to 10 me­tres tall here. This pest has soft stems and large, vel­vety light green leaves that are whitish un­der­neath. Clus­ters of pur­ple flow­ers de­velop into large round berries.

Woolly night­shade can pop up in gar­dens at any time. It grows and ma­tures rapidly, form­ing dense tall stands and pro­duc­ing many well-dis­persed seeds most of year.

The plant is cov­ered in a fine dust that can causes al­ler­gic re­ac­tions or rashes in some peo­ple. It also pro­duces tox­ins that poi­son the soil around it, stop­ping other seedlings from es­tab­lish­ing.

Clus­ters of pur­ple flow­ers de­velop into round berries.

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