Winning war against ‘wandering willie’
Three truckloads and a skip bin later, a task that seemed too big to tackle is being beaten.
A combination of volunteer working bees and ongoing weeding maintenance has made an impact on a spreading and smothering weed in Palmerston North’s Ashhurst Domain.
Tradescantia, or wandering willie, as it is sometimes called, had invaded the domain’s native bush reserves.
This weed has soft succulent creeping stems, which will root and spread at any node that touches the ground.
Stem fragments can also be spread by foot traffic, animals, and dumped vegetation to infest other areas.
The weed was growing almost a metre high in many places and was smothering the maidenhair fern endemic to our region.
It happily grows in dense shade and prevents native seedlings sprouting and regenerating our native bush.
In 2016, the Society for the Resilience and Engagement of the Community of Ashhurst and Pohangina (RECAP) organised vision planning consultation for the Ashhurst community.
One of the projects that arose from these discussions was to control this weed infestation at our domain.
RECAP organised a working bee six months ago which attracted over 20 volunteers and succeeded in removing three truckloads of the weed from the native bush neighbouring the playground area.
A recent call for volunteers on the ENM and RECAP mailing lists attracted a similar number of volunteers for a second working bee to clear another patch and remove regrowth from the earlier weeded patch.
Adults and children worked together and had filled a big skip bin ready for removal in a couple of hours.
Organisers and volunteers were pleasantly surprised to find that the weed had not regenerated as fast as expected.
We cannot expect to easily eradicate this plant from the bush, but ongoing maintenance will help to keep it under control.
RECAP, members who co-ordinated the events, want to thank all those who have contributed their time and labour for these working bees.
Thanks must also go to PNCC for disposing of the weed, and thank you to Horizons staff who helped and hosted a barbecue to sustain the workers at each event.
Volunteer weeders at Ashhurst Domain helping clear the reserve of ‘wandering willie’.