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Garden pest on hit list to prevent its spread

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2013
Garden Pest
BAD SHRUB: Shirley Warren is working to eliminate Rhamnus alaternus on the Bucklands Beach peninsula, where it is declared a containment plant.

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People are being told to collectively eliminate a suffocating shrub from their gardens.

Rhamnus has mostly been removed from public land on the Bucklands Beach peninsula, and it is now up to private landowners to weed it out there.

"It's just got to go, this plant," Howick Local Board member Shirley Warren says. "If we don't get rid of it here it will spread throughout Howick and maybe Mangemangeroa, and everywhere."

Rhamnus, or evergreen buckthorn, is a leafy shrub less than five metres tall with red-black glossy berries.

Mrs Warren says the now-defunct Auckland Regional Council declared it a containment plant on the peninsula about three years ago.

This means it is a legal requirement for landowners to remove the weed.

Since then, Rhamnus has been mostly removed from council parks and reserves, and completely removed from Crown land on Musick Pt.

Pamphlets were delivered to every letterbox on the peninsula in December informing residents of the obligation and need to remove it.

Mrs Warren says if left alone the plant will likely spread rampant in native reserves where it will suffocate young plants.

"It just grows too fast, too high and it's exotic, and we have a chance of getting rid of it." She hopes people will take heed of the brochures and remove the plant from their land. "If a resident doesn't get rid of it, it is only going to spread to his neighbour's place and the neighbours aren't going to be very happy."

Mrs Warren says there is also some evergreen buckthorn in Howick, and it should also be removed although it is not declared a containment plant there.

If people are not sure whether a plant is Rhamnus, call Auckland Council on 301 0101.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

• Evergreen shrub, usually less than five metres high

• Glossy green leaves with serrated edges • Small green fragrant flowers (May-November)

• Red-black glossy berries

• Mottled brown bark. How to remove it: The best way is to cut off the plant 50-100mm above ground and apply Vigilant gel to the freshly cut stump. It is essential to poison the stump, as otherwise the plant will sprout with dozens of stems which are harder to remove than the original tree.

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- Eastern Courier

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