The story of feral cactus in town seems to go back to a caravan park that used to be at the end of Burke St, Old East Side. It’s not surprising as garden escapes make up about 1/3rd of declared pest plants in Australia. Being in the arid zone we are lucky that most garden plants can’t survive in the bush but the ones that can are hardy blighters.
There are 8 species of spiny succulents that can be found in the bush around town. Six are types of cactus and we also have an Agave (century plant) and Aloes (Aloe vera, succulents with soft spines). Of the 6 cactus 4 are particularly problematic as they readily reproduce from segments that can be transported by water, animals and people.
Sightings in the early 2000s were reported to Weeds Branch and control work was undertaken usually by herbicide application. The extent of the infestation was under-estimated and as more cactus was detected it became apparent that more active involvement would be required and that removing plants as they were found was the best option for all but the biggest clumps. Since then thousands of person hours have been spent searching and removing plants.
In early 2012 many invasive cactus species were declared Weeds of National Significance (WoNS), including all of the species found here.
Andy. one of ASL’s founding members, worked for a tertiary learning institute and used cactus as a way to deliver modules in survey techniques and treat weeds so lots of mapping, spraying and removal was done either by the students or Landcare volunteers.
After a bit of a lull in 2017 control work has steadily ramped up again and as of June 2020 we are pretty confident that we have swept most of the area on the map. A lot of work is being done on the Telegraph Station Reserve as well so it is hoped that in the next year or so we can get this infestation well under control.
This is where you come in. Finding the last plants is going to be extremely difficult and time consuming. So far, a method using drones has not been developed. Therefore the more legs and eyes we have out here the better!
What you can do
Don’t grow cactus in your yard and if you do always put any cuttings in the bin. NOT OVER THE BACK FENCE!
If your neighbours have some, mention to them (if you’re on good terms) that it is a serious weed and to bin all cuttings.
Report any you see in the bush. If you have a tablet or phone with a GPS turn on location tags and take a photo. If the location data appears in the details of the image send the photo by email to us and we will deal with it or notify the appropriate authority. Do not send the image by MMS (text) as the meta-data including location will be scrubbed.
If that is not possible, then try to provide us with as clear and accurate a description as possible.
If you’re really keen, and know how, remove it from the bush and put it in your wheelie bin. Be careful. These plants will hurt you (especially Hudson pear). We’d still be keen to know where you found it and what type it was. A reasonably close photo is enough for identification.