Win­ning war against ‘wan­der­ing wil­lie’

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - HAR­VEY JONES (RECAP)

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.

PHOTO: HAR­VEY JONES

Vol­un­teer weed­ers at Ash­hurst Do­main help­ing clear the re­serve of ‘wan­der­ing wil­lie’.

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