Priority Weeds in Focus: African Boxthorn

Parkes Shire

Parkes Shire Council is calling on residents to be vigilant and report all occurrences of African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum), one of the most prolific and identifiable weeds across the Shire.

Council’s Environment and Sustainability Coordinator Michael Chambers said, “African Boxthorn is an extremely versatile species, able to tolerate a wide range of climates, soil types and ecosystems.

“Given its ability to thrive in so many environments, African boxthorn is considered one of the worst weeds in Australia due to its invasiveness, potential for further distribution, and economic and environmental impacts,” said Mr. Chambers.

African Boxthorn grows up to five metres high and three metres wide, forming dense, spiny thickets that can be impenetrable barriers for livestock and people. If untreated, this species can also invade bushland and outcompete native plants.

In agricultural settings, African Boxthorn reduces the carrying capacity of land and impedes stock access to land, shade, and water. The sharp thorns can injure livestock, while the berries can be toxic to many animals.

In bushland, African Boxthorn can outcompete and displace native plants, degrading and reducing fauna habitat. Dense thickets can provide the ideal environment for rabbits, sparrows, foxes, feral pigs, and starlings.

” African Boxthorn can be identified by its small tubular flowers that are pale lilac or white, often displaying lilac blotching towards the base and a deep purple inside the flower tube.

“Young stems and branches are smooth grey, transitioning to brown, fissured, ridged, and covered in sturdy thorns when mature. Leaves are bright green, approximately three centimetres in length and two centimetres in width, rounded at the top and tapered towards the base,” added Mr. Chambers.

Once pollinated, flowers develop into small green berries that ripen in colour to a brilliant orange to red. Mature berries are one centimetre in diameter and contain numerous light- brown to yellow seeds. Flowering and fruiting can occur at any time of the year.

Council collaborates with many stakeholders concerned with biosecurity and weed management, including the NSW Government and private landholders.

“Council also works with other State Government agencies to control plants on their land, such as Crown Lands, Local Land Services and Transport for NSW. We also regularly meet with private landholders to conduct inspections and demonstrate effective approaches to weed management,” Mr. Chambers said.

Council’s Biosecurity Team are available to assist any landholder in the Parkes Shire with weed identification on their property and can also provide specialist advice on control techniques for priority weeds on private land. This service is provided free of charge.

To organise for a member of Council’s Biosecurity Team to undertake an inspection of your property, or to assist in weed identification or give advice on control techniques, give the team a call on (02) 6861 2343.

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