Eradicating Parthenium weed

Published on 18 February 2021

Parthenium weed - Credit: Bob Trounce

A taskforce led by the Illawarra District Weeds Authority (IDWA) is stepping up its operations within the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region to ensure the containment and eradication of a recent discovery of the toxic Parthenium weed.

The weed, which is a prohibited matter and considered a significant biosecurity risk to NSW, was discovered late last year and linked to contaminated organic whole grain chicken feed and mash.

The resulting weed incursion was detected by vigilant property owners following a concerted promotional campaign alerting Illawarra residents to the risk after the weed was spotted in nearby regions.

IDWA Chief Weeds Officer David Pomery said the early discovery of the Parthenium weed would aid in its containment and eradication.

“While the Parthenium weed is known to spread rapidly, this is great example of how our system of checks and balances is working well and we are confident in our ability to eradicate the weed from the area,” he said.

“The landowner has proven extremely vigilant and followed all protocols in relation to dealing with this weed. We are now working closely with them to ensure the safe removal of the weed without compromising their operations.

“It is a delicate process that takes time but it is certainly a battle we can win.”

The Parthenium weed is dangerous to animals and can cause serious allergic reactions to people who come in contact with the plant or pollen.

Although recent infestations across the state have been linked to chicken feed, Mr Pomery says it is important for all landowners and residents in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven to be aware of the issue and report any sightings of the plant immediately.

“It is only by working together that we can keep this weed at bay,” he said. “We are asking everyone to be aware of this weed, be vigilant not only on their own properties but at roadsides, areas with bare soil or where soil or compost have been delivered, and where earthworks have taken place.

“If you suspect you have seen this plant, contact either the NSW Department of Primary Industries Biosecurity helpline on 1800 680 244 or the Illawarra District Weeds Authority immediately.”

As part of the current project to contain and eradicate the weed, the IDWA and NSW DPI have formed a taskforce and will conduct ground inspections of properties in the Illawarra on Tuesday and Wednesday. Further inspections will be held in coming weeks, including the use of sniffer dogs for sensitive areas.

The taskforce will also be talking to landowners and residents to further educate them about the Parthenium weed and how to deal with it.

For more information on the weed and how to identify it at different growth stages, go to the NSW DPI website

Photo: Bob Trounce

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