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Gorse … the wicked weed

Gorse produces a pretty yellow flower, but it is one of Australia’s Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and it already has a presence in Murrindindi Shire.

According to Murrindindi Shire Council’s Natural Environment and Climate Change Portfolio Councillor, Rebecca Bowles, Gorse was introduced to Australia in the 1800s and was planted to create hedges and used as an ornamental plant until the 1980s.

Cr Bowles said it is now classed as a noxious weed and a WoNS because of its invasiveness, its potential to significantly reduce land values and the high cost to remove it.

“Unless landowners get rid of it when they see it, gorse has the potential to become a real problem in our Shire,” Cr Bowles said. “Its thickets provide a safe haven for feral animals, the plant is highly flammable during summer and it spreads quickly, often along drainage lines and waterways, degrading and devaluing land.”

A member of the pea family, gorse is known for its bright yellow flowers, and it’s extremely spiny branches. It produces a huge number of hairy seed pods. A mature infestation of gorse can produce up to 6 million seeds per hectare each year.

“These seeds are incredibly tough, and they can remain viable in the soil for up to 50 years,” Cr Bowles said.

“Seeds generally fall within metres of the plant, but can be spread much further by birds, in animal hooves or vehicle tyre treads.”

The best way to tackle the weed involves a community-partnership approach, with landowners and public land managers using herbicides and biological agents, while clearing the shrubs with machinery to ensure roots are removed.

“I know it takes a lot of hard work to control, but all landowners are legally responsible for controlling gorse on their property to stop its spread,” she said.

Property owners who think they have gorse and aren’t sure, or if they want more information about gorse in Murrindindi Shire, can get in touch with Council’s Environment Officer on 5772 0333.

“The Victorian Gorse Management Taskforce’s website is a brilliant resource and is well worth a look.  Find it at www.vicgorsetaskforce.com.au,” Cr Bowles said.

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