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Beautiful But Deadly

13 March 2001

The Department of Conservation is asking the public to help in the war against one the region's most dangerous and fastest spreading weeds - Wild Ginger.

This distinctively smelling plant that lines many of our Northland roadsides is prolific in its ability to spread. One of the species, Kahili Ginger, is capable of producing up to 100 bird-dispersing seeds per flower and each year its roots spread outward sprouting new plants.

The Department is now asking the public to keep their eyes peeled for any new obvious infestations especially as they are at their most notable, in their flowering state.

There are two types of wild ginger – Kahili Ginger (identifiable by large red stamen) and Yellow Ginger.

Wild Ginger was first brought to New Zealand as a garden plant in the 1890’s and was being actively planted up into the 1980’s because of its bright colors and how easily it grew. Today wild ginger has rapidly spread throughout Northland, Auckland and Coromandel and is killing off our native bush. Where wild ginger grows, very little native bush can grow. Wild ginger has huge roots that form a dense layer up to a metre thick. Very little can grow through the ginger roots. Above the ground, wild ginger blocks the light and smothers native species.

The Department of Conservation, currently has a team controlling ginger at Kaheka Point and St. Paul’s Rock Scenic Reserve and is seeking your help. If you see a flowering Kahili ginger plant, break off the flower heads. This will not kill the plant, but it will help stop it seeding new plants. Flowering heads can be left on the ground, if there are seeds disposed the heads carefully in the rubbish.

“If everyone controlled ginger on their own property and helped to reduce seed sources- that would be a big step toward reducing the spread” explained Sara Barber, Programme Manager Biodiversity Threats.

Wild ginger is classified as a highly invasive plant and should be removed from your property to protect our native forests. Any Kahili Ginger that is discovered should be cut off at the stems and sprayed with Escort (available from Far North District Council Offices in Kaeo, in small quantities for a small cost). Seedlings are likely to appear for several years after treatment of the parent. They can be sprayed with Escort, or pulled and disposed of carefully. When pulling Kahili Ginger, ensure that all the tuber and root are removed from the ground as any fragment of the root will sprout.

For further information on treating ginger on private land, Contact Doug Foster from Northern Regional Council at 09 408 1451 or Sara Barber, Department of Conservation at 09 407 8474.


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