Bad buzz from imported weed
Evergreen buckthorn, a pest plant imported for ornamental purposes and used as a winter feed for bees, has been creating a bad buzz in parts of our region.
Winter’s a good time for the public to be keeping an eye out for evergreen buckthorn as it’s when the plant produces small green flowers and more obvious glossy dark green berries (that eventually turn red then black).
Originally from the Mediterranean region, evergreen buckthorn is found in areas around the Waikato, including eastern suburbs and Glenview in Hamilton, parts of the Coromandel and near Te Kauwhata.
Waikato Regional Council has declared evergreen buckthorn a total control species, meaning the council is responsible for control and working with landowners generally to eradicate it.
Evergreen buckthorn is a multi-stemmed shrub, tolerating dry and exposed conditions. It is considered a serious pest plant because each plant produces a lot of berries from a young age, which are spread by birds.
It can take over stream and forest margins, changing the structure of native ecosystems. The plant looks similar to camellia and karamu but evergreen buckthorn has two small bumps at the base of the top side of leaves.
The leaves also alternate along the sides of branches instead of being matched. The berries grow in clusters and are up to seven millimetres long.
Hamilton has been a particular focus for eradication. The council has been controlling it there for the past 10 years.
The good news is that numbers in Hamilton have now reduced to a very low level. But that means removing already established plants and any new infestations early is vital. Sightings can be reported to the council’s pest plant staff on 0800 246 732.
-Supplied by Waikato Regional Council.