A highly invasive and destructive aquatic weed that is prohibited entry into Australia has been found growing on a farm dam at Dapto.
A significant but isolated infestation of the aquatic noxious weed Senegal Tea Plant has been found chocking a farm dam and nearby overflow drain on a rural property in the foothills of the Illawarra escarpment at West Dapto, forcing the Illawarra District Noxious Weeds Authority (IDNWA) to take drastic action to eradicate the infestation.
Senegal Tea Plant is native to tropical and subtropical America (from Mexico to Argentina). It is an invasive aquatic weed in New Zealand, India and China. It was introduce to Australia from India for the aquarium trade in the 1970’s, and was first recorded as naturalised in the Manning River near Taree in 1980. The current distribution in NSW is made up of isolated infestations on the Central Coast, the Hunter and Sydney regions. It is listed as Class 1 Notifiable State Prohibited Noxious Weed in NSW.
Chief Weeds Officer for the IDNWA David Pomery said Senegal tea plant is one of 28 weeds on the Australian Government’s National Environmental Alert List. ‘These weeds are in the early stages of establishment and could seriously threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage if not managed” Mr Pomery said.
Senegal tea plant can grow as an erect, rounded bush up to 1 m tall, but is more commonly found as a scrambling form extending from the edges of waterways and forming dense tangled mats in open water. Numerous, white, ball-shaped flowers are produced in summer.
IDNWA staff are working with both the landowner and the Department of Industry and Investment NSW to control the plant and stop it spreading into nearby waterways and wetlands where it could become a major weed.
In another Prohibited weed outbreak Shellharbour City Council staff have discovered an infestation of the Class 2 Regionally Prohibited plant and Weed of National Significance (WONS), Alligator Weed. Alligator weed is described as one of the world’s worst aquatic weeds because of its fast growth rate and the infestation at the Dunmore wetlands’ poses a major threat to the biodiversity and ecology of this area.
The IDNWA have begun an extensive search and destroy program around the margins of the wetland to eradicate any plants.
If anyone knows of any potential Alligator weed or Senegal Tea Plant infestations they should report it immediately on 42 331129.