Weed­busters

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

The bad as­para­gus fam­ily mem­ber

Lo­ca­tion: na­tion­wide and spread­ing fast, but a se­ri­ous prob­lem in the North Is­land, es­pe­cially the north­ern half, and in the South Is­land in Can­ter­bury and Nel­son. Dis­tinc­tive fea­tures: green­ish-white flow­ers from July to Au­gust, fol­lowed by round red berries. Why is it weedy: spread by birds that eat its bright red berries that con­tain the seeds, in­fil­trates for­est rem­nants, taking over shady spots, smoth­ers hedges in farm ar­eas, and seems to love liv­ing on the coast.

It may look del­i­cate, but smilax is one tough cus­tomer. It has a re­ally strong tuber­ous root sys­tem which is long-lived and can sur­vive ad­verse con­di­tions, re­sprout­ing eas­ily, and spread­ing through soil or wa­ter. It also has strong, wiry stems that twine around any­thing it comes in con­tact with, spread­ing for up to 3m.

It yel­lows off dur­ing the time when it pro­duces berries, mak­ing it look like it has been sprayed, but soon bounces back with a vengeance, turn­ing lush and green again.

Smilax is of­ten found in waste ar­eas and on road­sides but has also in­vaded im­por­tant wild habi­tats in­clud­ing vol­canic ar­eas, coastal and es­tu­ar­ine zones, bluffs, po­hutukawa for­est and in­shore is­lands, where it is ca­pa­ble of elim­i­nat­ing vul­ner­a­ble na­tive coastal species.

HOW TO KILL SMILAX

1. Dig out tu­bers. Dis­pose of them at a refuse trans­fer sta­tion or burn them. Leave on site to rot down.

2. Weed wipe (spring-early sum­mer only): glyphosate (333ml /L), no pen­e­trant.

3. Spray (spring-early sum­mer only): glyphosate (20ml /L + pen­e­trant). Do not add pen­e­trant when spray­ing against tree trunks. Spray lightly, avoid­ing runoff.

WARN­ING: THIS IS ONE VERY PER­SIS­TENT WEED

• Tu­bers re­sprout af­ter spray­ing so you need to main­tain a rolling front of con­trol – fol­low up on treated ar­eas at least 6-monthly. • Stems break at ground level so plants can­not be pulled out. • Grub­bing tu­bers can ex­pose soil, al­low­ing seeds to ger­mi­nate. • Re­plant treated ar­eas where pos­si­ble af­ter 2-3 treat­ments to es­tab­lish dense ground cover and min­imise rein­va­sion.

Llook k out for green­ish­white flow­ers now

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