Lantana, Blackberry and other weeds

To: michael norris <>,
Subject: Lantana, Blackberry and other weeds
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 10:30:57 +1100
Back in 1989, Warringal Conservation Society master-minded a huge mixed planting on the banks of Banyule Billabong in Heidelberg (and many more since) - now well-grown and most successful. Till then the only cover for small birds (blue wrens, finches etc) was blackberry and hawthorn scrub under a fringe of big old Red Gums. Weeds and pasture grass were sprayed on the actual sites. The brambles and hawthorns were not removed until the young gums, wattles and other native shrubs and bushes were growing up well and providing alternative cover for the little birds - now joined by many insectivorous birds such as Grey Fantails. While the plants were still young it was necessary to weed them from time to time to keep out pasture grasses and other weeds.

A different problem for the Friends of Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe, was (and still is) the abundant growth of the ground-smothering garden escape, Tradescantia. It was very encouraging to discover that when this is removed, the seed-bank of native shrubs starts to germinate at once. We found tremendous growth of young Tree Violet (Hymenanthera) and Coprosma coming up, most of which survived. The trouble with Trad is that you must keep on weeding it as it creeps back. It is of course necessary to re-plant where the blackberries and privet are removed, using weed-mat as necessary. All it takes is Council funding and staff, herds of volunteers, and persistence. You can't just re-plant and walk away, because the supplies of weed seeds and propagatable material is imense. It's great to see the return of birds previously just about extinct in Melbourne suburbs, such as Common Bronzewings.

Neither of these operations would have been possible without the support of Banyule City Council and its predecessor, Heidelberg City Council.

Anthea Fleming

michael norris wrote:

I try never to talk about clearing weeds, only about replacing weeds.

Planting (a great favourite with the general public) is one possibility but there is recent research suggesting that in many circumstances just removing weeds is sufficient, because it will lead to natural regeneration.

Of course there is evidence that in some locations invasive environmental weeds (IEW), such as lantana, are great habitat or food sources.

In some instances, for example where Blackberry provides the only nest sites for Fairy-wrens, it is good to provide alternative planted habitat as part of staged replacement.

I think retention should be encouraged only where the affected species are threatened (on some important scale) and there is a clear policy for managing the weed (often including removing fruit, especially where it is likely to be dispersed by birds, foxes...). The recent article on Camphor Laurel in Australian Field Ornithology was interesting about a downside of a particular IEW. It can, see the archives, attract rare birds but the article suggests they may be poisoned by eating the fruit.

All that said, I have planted Tree Lucerne in my back yard for the honeyeaters!

Michael Norris


To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message: unsubscribe (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU