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Woolly nightshade subsidy phased out

Woolly nightshade subsidy phased out

11 July 2014

If you own, rent or lease land in the Bay of Plenty you will now need to meet the full cost of controlling the invasive pest plant woolly nightshade, following the phasing out of a subsidy programme.

Under the Regional Pest Management Plan Property owners in the Bay of Plenty are responsible for managing woolly nightshade on their property.

After a phase-out period over the past four financial years, during which the woolly nightshade control subsidy was progressively reduced, the subsidy programme has come to an end.

“Managing woolly nightshade has been the most costly pest control programme in the region and we have helped many property owners with subsidised control work. The cost of this is not sustainable,” General Manager Environmental Delivery, Warwick Murray, says.

“However, Regional Council staff are still available to help people and we encourage property owners to remain vigilant in their efforts to control woolly nightshade so they don’t run the risk of it getting out of control and potentially, also spreading to other properties.

“Woolly nightshade grows quickly and takes over if not dealt with as early as possible. It has the potential to form massive ‘forests’,” he says.

While the focus is shifting to surveillance and compliance, Regional Council staff are available for advice about how to control the plant and anyone who needs help with pest plants of any kind should contact a land management officer.

“Regional Council is in the early stages of implementing a bio-control programme for woolly nightshade which has proven very successful at several initial release sites,” Mr Murray says. “This is a natural and long-term process which will take time to spread and while it won’t kill all woolly nightshade in the Bay of Plenty, it should help reduce the density and vigour of infestations over large areas once the agent is established throughout the region.

“We are in the process of distributing the agent to worst-affected areas to speed up natural spread of the agent.

“People with significant problems on their land should contact us to discuss their situation and find out how we can help with their individual pest plant issues,” Mr Murray says.

“We need to keep pest plants at bay and we need landowners and occupiers to help us do that.”

A pest plant found in most warmer areas of the Bay of Plenty, particularly in coastal areas, woolly nightshade forms dense stands, crowding out and suppressing all plants. It invades pastoral land, native forest margins, plantation forests, waste land and urban areas.

Woolly nightshade is a containment pest plant in the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Pest Management Plan and rules require land occupiers to destroy any they find on their property.

Facts about woolly nightshade

• Scientific name: Solanum mauritianum

• Also known as tobacco plant

• A shrub or small tree, growing up to 10m tall

• Leaves are large and greyish-green, covered in felt-like hairs and has a kerosene-like pungent smell when crushed

• Flowers are purple clusters at ends of branches almost year-round

• Large berries – initially green but ripen to yellow

• Toxic to humans and possibly stock – irritates the skin, eyes, nose and throat

• Seeds mostly spread by birds

• Native to South America and introduced to New Zealand as a garden plant

Controlling it is not difficult but methods need to be followed carefully

• Seedlings and small plants can be pulled or dug out

• Stem frilling and injecting can be done at any time of year for larger plants: ringbark the stem and apply undiluted glyphosate (eg. Roundup®) to the ringbarked area

• Stump treatment: cut down the tree and treat the stump liberally on both the cut surface and the sides of the stump to ground level with a mix of 1 part of glyphosate to 5 parts water

• Foliar spray with Aminopyralid (eg Tordon® Max) or tiriclopyr/picloram (eg Tordon brushkiller or Agpro Trichloram). Commonly used herbicides such as glyphosate and metsulfuron (eg Escort or Meturon) will not work as foliar sprays.

• Go to http://www.boprc.govt.nz/media/29338/PestPlants-050615-Factsheet01WoolyNightshade.pdf

• View this short video clip outlines how to control woolly nightshade:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0abQU35o8s

• Call the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for advice and support ph 0800 884 880 and ask to speak to a land management officer.


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