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Solanum nigrum (Black Nightshade)Heliotropium europaeum (Common Heliotrope)Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan)Opuntia robusta           (Wheel Cactus)Marrubium vulgare (Horehound)Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle)Tribulus sp. (Caltrop)Malva parviflora (Small-flowered Mallow)Carthamus lanatus (Saffron Thistle)Alternanthera pungens (Khaki Weed)Cichorium intybus (Chicory)Carduus pycnocephalus (Shore Thistle)Briza minor (Lesser Quaking Grass)Chondrilla juncea (Skeleton Weed)Briza maxima (Quaking Grass)Solanum sp. (Nightshade; seedlings)Conyza sp. (Fleabane) Dipsacus fullonum (Wild Teasel)Alstroemeria hybrid (Peruvian Lily)Malva parviflora (Small-flowered Mallow)

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Bush Invaders of South East Australia

Author or Editor: 
Adam Muyt
ISBN: 
0 9587439 7 5
Price: 
A$59.95
Other information: 
A guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds found in South-East Australia.
Reviewer: 
Ian Popay, Weedwise, 14 Dillon Place, Hamilton 2001, New Zealand

 

This book should be on the shelves of anybody in New Zealand who has to deal with or is interested in dealing with the weeds that invade and despoil areas of native bush. Although directed at the parts of Australia closest to us, almost all of the weeds described in this book are serious problems of similar areas in New Zealand, and the techniques described for controlling them can also be used here. Some of the weeds described are not yet problems in New Zealand, but may yet become so. That lovely, innocuous garden plant Freesia is a bush invader in Australia and may also, one day, be a problem here.

A warning, too, that our own native plants can become dangerous when they get overseas. Two of the plants described in this book are New Zealanders that are causing problems in SE Australia. These are the toetoe Cortaderia richardii and Coprosma repens, sometimes called looking-glass bush. Cortaderia richardii gets lumped in with wicked pampas and purple pampas, and is seen as a serious threat to World Heritage areas in south-west Tasmania. Coprosma has escaped from gardens and become a problem in coastal bushland, and sometimes inland.

Australian plants, too, can be dangerous if they escape from their original habitats. Several species have been widely planted outside their natural ranges, and are spreading into forests and woodland. Among those that cause problems both in parts of Australia and also here are Racosperma baileyanum (Acacia baileyana), Racosperma longifolium (Acacia longifolia), and Paraserianthes lophantha (originally from Western Australia, widely planted and now a problem weed in costal areas of SE Australia).

A book to help in the identification of weeds is available in New Zealand - An Illustrated Guide to Common Weeds of New Zealand, by Roy, Popay, Champion, James and Rahman. Books on controlling weeds in New Zealand are scarce and mostly out-of-date, and this book provides some helpful information on controlling many weeds found in bush areas in both Australia and New Zealand. For the professionals in NZ, the Department of Conservation has produced a large loose-leaf folder called Weed Manager, which provides descriptions and control methods for weeds of conservation areas, but this is not widely available.

The taxonomists have been at work again, and some of the species in the Bush Invaders book now carry new Latin names. Cape ivy, which we know as Senecio angulatus, has become Delairea odorata, and climbing dock, Rumex sagittatus, has become Acetosa sagittata. Cape tulip, Homeria collina, is now known as Moraea flaccida.

The first part of the book deals with environmental weeds, the problems they cause and why, and deals with the management of environmental weeds, with a very wide range of weed control methods, including herbicides, grazing and burning. The section on the use of herbicides goes into considerable detail on how to minimise risks to non-target vegetation. HortResearchÕs Vigilant gel herbicide has obviously not yet reached Australia, since this very useful and practical approach to herbicide use is not mentioned in this section of the book.

In the second part of the book, 93 individual entries give information on over 150 species. The species discussed are divided into sections of grasses, other narrow-leaf herbs, broadleaf herbs, climbers and creepers, shrubs, trees and aquatics, which is a very useful approach.

The information presented for each species is impressive. Its common names, family, country of origin, method of introduction (most commonly for ornamental purposes!), plant form and Australian distribution appear first. Next comes an 'invasive summary', explaining where and why the plant is a problem, followed by 'diagnostic features' to help in its recognition, and 'reproduction and dispersal'. 'Control and removal' comes next, giving vital information on how to control the pest without or with herbicides. [I think I would have preferred some guidance on which herbicide to use. Glyphosate kills most, but not all, plants, and some suggestions of when it isn't so good and then what alternatives to use would have helped.] Notes on 'similar invasive species' follow, and then 'confusing indigenous species'. 'References' at the end of each species notes refer the reader to the list of nearly 400 reference works near the end of the book. The notes on each species or group of species are very comprehensive.

Each species is clearly illustrated with one or more good colour photographs, most of which show diagnostic features well. Some photographs are less clear (balloon vine, on p129, for example, could be almost any climber).

The book is hardly comprehensive - I am sure there are many more species than this that cause problems in natural environments in SE Australia. Some of the species described here are of limited distribution, and the impacts of the herbaceous species, like some grasses, are small by comparison with scrubweeds and creepers.

IÕm not sure either that the aquatic weeds shown in this book really fit into the definition of Ôbush invaders', especially in the case of the seaweed Undaria. All are invaders of natural environments, but hardly bush areas.

It's another attractive and well-presented book from the Rob and Fiona Richardson stable, and yet another Australian weed book. The Australians have always been much better off than we have for books about identifying and controlling weeds, and they're not especially cheap, especially this side of the Tasman. It's partly because there are more of them than there are of us of course, but I think it's because they take their weeds much more seriously than we do, as their spending on research shows.

Bush invaders of South-East Australia: A guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds found in South-East Australia by Adam Muyt was published in August 2001 by RG and FJ Richardson. It is a sturdy paperback of 304 pages, with coloured and black and white plates and line drawings, retails for A$59.95 and is available from RG and FJ Richardson, PO Box 42, Meredith, Vic 3333, Australia, or at www.weedinfo.com.au.