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Painful weed found in Maketu

Friday 2 September 2005

Painful weed found in Maketu – have you seen it?

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Chris McKay says the weed looks like dock but has a viciously sharp burr or seed.


A lawn weed with burrs that are so sharp they can pierce a car tyre has been found growing in a Maketu backyard.

Environment Bay of Plenty pest plant officer Chris McKay says the find has painful implications for people who like to walk barefoot. “They might be in for a very nasty surprise.”

Spiny Emex (Emex australis) is a low-lying annual herb that looks a lot like dock. However, it is most easily identified by its spiny, three-cornered seeds which, when shed, lie with one sharp spike upwards. The burrs are rock hard and can cause lameness in animals and injure humans.

Spiny Emex is found on sandy soils in coastal areas. It is known to grow in two areas of Hawkes Bay, but not elsewhere in New Zealand. However, it is more common in Australia and the United States.

Environment Bay of Plenty staff heard about the weed’s existence in Maketu from a woman who found it growing on her lawn and was worried the spikes could injure young visiting whanau. Mr McKay says the plant was discovered once before in Maketu, about 10 years ago, but not since then. “We’ve heard that locals sometimes call them 303s, possibly because when you stand on one of those burrs, it’s like being shot in the foot!”

Mr McKay would like anyone who has seen Spiny Emex to call him on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267). Environment Bay of Plenty may well get rid of the weed for you, he says. “We definitely don’t want it to spread.”


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