Weed's spread raises concerns

Nasty: Chrysanthemoides monilifera, or boneseed, is in parts of the Kaikoura district.
Nasty: Chrysanthemoides monilifera, or boneseed, is in parts of the Kaikoura district.

A noxious weed needs to be eliminated in Kaikoura before it is too late, says a concerned environmentalist.

Geoff Harrow lives in Christchurch, where the Chrysanthemoides monilifera, or boneseed, plant is taking over some areas, in particular the Port Hills.

On a visit to Kaikoura two weekends ago, Mr Harrow was alarmed to see boneseed in parts of the district, particularly above Torquay St and along Tom's Track.

While only in low levels in Kaikoura, Mr Harrow is urging people to be vigilant and start the fight before it is too late.

"If it gets going it will be a real menace for the whole of the Kaikoura coast," he said.

The Port Hills above Christchurch are a classic example of how readily boneseed can be spread, he said, the seeds of which are spread by birds.

The plants prefer salt and little frost, so conditions are perfect in Kaikoura.

"You have a really good chance of getting rid of it completely if residents, ECan, council and DOC all pull together and get on to it," Mr Harrow said.

From December to February, the seeds are eaten by birds and consequently spread widely.

Each seed is almost indestructible, which means most will form another plant along the coast somewhere.

Environment Canterbury biosecurity officer Jan Crooks said there was a boneseed programme in place, which sees Ecan staff and contractors cover the area over a 2-3 year period but this was expensive and people's vigilance would be appreciated in order to prevent the plant spreading.

A team of abseilers had been in town for a few days, working specifically on removing boneseed from the cliffs above Torquay St, she said.

ECan also has a large database detailing sites where boneseed has been found in the district. Environment Canterbury has had a very successful control programme to date which has seen a huge reduction in plants since work first began in Kaikoura in 2004.

To eradicate the pest from your garden or neighbourhood, now is the time to do it because the yellow flowers are very distinctive making the plant easily identified.

Ms Crooks said the plants can be hand-pulled if not too large. Alternatively the plant can be cut and the stump treated to prevent regrowth.

For advice on the best way to identify or treat boneseed, Ms Crooks would be happy to hear from you on 03 319 3236.

Kaikoura Star