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The Bushcarer

Bush For Life Autumn 2013 Number 10

Bush For Life News Autumn edition


elcome to the 10th edition of our newsletter and a happy 2013 to you all. Once again a big thank you for sending in your End Of Year Questionnaires.

Keepin’ it clean in 2013


etting back in to the active weed control season, it is timely to think about hygiene on BFL sites. Good hygiene with tools and equipment minimises transport of Phytophthora and weed propagules around bushland, especially when visiting several different sites. Clean tools will also work better and last longer. Phytophthora cinnamomi: This root rot fungus can be spread on buckets and tools placed on infected soil just as easily as it can on footwear. Always brush off loose dirt and spray with methylated spirits at the same time you do your boots – when entering and leaving the BFL site. Many sites are accessed by the general public and we have no control over whether their boots are clean or where they travel, but we potentially pose a greater threat, as we spend much of our time in the better bush and off tracks. Weed seeds: Many weed seeds, especially grasses, seeds with burrs and very fine seed like monadenia, get moved around the bush by

clinging to shoes, socks, pants, other clothing and tools. Try to avoid walking through areas that have large numbers of these plants with seed on them. Wearing gaiters can prevent seed sticking to laces and socks. Take time to pick off seeds and remove from the site in your bucket. Also be careful not to move native plant seed around - you may move it to an area where it was not previously found. Sheep’s burr, wallaby-grass and spear-grass are three very common native plants with seed that sticks to clothing. Cleaning tools: Scrub tools with soapy water and rinse. Sticky sap might be helped by RP7 lubricant spray. Lightly spray with methylated spirits and allow to dry. Apply a lubricant from time to time to keep parts moving smoothly and help prevent rusting. Using a tool sharpener on secateurs and loppers will also improve their performance and reduce strain on your hands and arms. Ask your regional coordinator if you want some help with this. Use a soft brush to clean soil and plant matter from swabber sponges, then spray with methylated spirits. When swabbers, squeeze bottles and spray units are empty, triple rinse them with clean water. Empty rinse water onto soil at home or on your site which is clear of any plants that you want to protect. It will be so dilute that it should break down very quickly. Don’t tip

out rinse water on hard surfaces or anywhere that it can find its way into a watercourse. Always wear chemical gloves and eye protection when handling herbicide and herbicide containers. It is quite simple to make sure you aren’t creating a new weed infestation or spreading Phytophthora – keep it clean and the plants and animals will love you for it, as will the other site volunteers. Cover photos from top to bottom: Isopogon ceratophyllus, Thelymitra nuda Banksia ornata

Contact us The Bushcarer is a production of Trees For Life. If you would like to help us save paper by receiving this by email, please let us know.

Trees For Life 5 May Tce Brooklyn Park 5032 Ph: 8406 0500 Fax: 8406 0599 bfl@

You are one of over 700 bushcarers actively managing more than 300 Bush For Life sites encompassing more than 3700ha of bushland in South Australia

Species Identification - Weed vs. Native St John’s wort

St John’s worts which is which?

NATIVE - H. japonicum

Native St. Johns Worts By Alan Dandie BFL Volunteer


ost readers will be aware of the weed St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) which is a perennial upright herb from knee to waist high, flowers from November to February and has conspicuous yellow flowers with black dots on the edges of the petals. They may be less familiar with the two native St John’s worts, H. gramineum (small St John’s wort), and H. japonicum (matted St John’s wort), which are both smaller and hard to tell apart. H. gramineum is a small annual to perennial herb to 40cm high and may be erect or decumbent. It flowers from October to March. H. japonicum, rated rare in South Australia, is a weak, decumbent to prostrate, but occasionally ascending, annual herb which flowers from November to March. Both have yellow flowers of similar size and may be found close together in the Southern Lofty district. The keys to identify each of the native species are the number of stamens and the petal to sepal length ratio. H. gramineum has about 30 to 50 stamens and a petal to sepal length ratio of about 1:3, whereas H. japonicum has 5 to 30 stamens and a petal to sepal length ratio of about 1:0. I have found from personal

NATIVE - H. gramineum

Large number of stamens and petals significantly longer than sepals

Smaller number of stamens and petals and sepals of nearly equal length

experience that looking solely at the growth habit to distinguish between these species is unreliable. On several occasions what I first thought was H. gramineum from its upright habit, turned out on closer inspection to be H. japonicum.

Weed St John’s wort By Peter Watton BFL Operations Manager


ften the introduced St John’s wort (H. perforatum) is not given a high priority in bushland restoration projects. However, I have seen several instances where it has become a significant threat to otherwise good quality and reasonably intact remnant vegetation. Originally introduced as an ornamental and for medicinal purposes from Europe, Asia and North Africa, it is particularly invasive in grasslands and grassy woodlands. Luckily, the introduced St John’s wort is significantly different in appearance to the two local native species, so identification is unlikely to be a problem. H. perforatum is a perennial herb, growing 30-90cm tall, with a distinctive branching habit. Oil glands can be seen on the leaves when they are held up to the light. There are two types of stem that grow from a central woody crown. A rosette of sterile, non-flowering, prostrate stems form in late autumn and die off in late spring. Upright fertile stems grow

in early spring, producing clusters of bright yellow flowers at their top from November to February. The flowers are about 2cm in diameter, with 5 petals and black oil glands that are often visible along their edges. Large quantities of seed are produced during autumn and these may remain dormant in the soil for up to 20 years. The flowering stem becomes reddish-brown and dies off in late autumn-winter as the seed matures. Seeds can germinate in both autumn and spring, but generally they struggle to get established where there is good competition from native vegetation. The risk of spread increases in wet seasons after periods of drought. H. perforatum also spreads by suckering, with rhizomes and crowns dispersed by machinery, in soil and during removal. Suckering and reshooting is also stimulated by fire. Seedlings take time to develop a substantial root system and can be carefully hand weeded. Larger plants are best treated with herbicide, as they tend to break off and reshoot from the crown or rhizome that is left in the ground. The key to successful treatment of mature plants is to recognise the two different stages of growth.

applying herbicide to them no longer exists. At this time glyphosate can be wiped on the stem and stem leaves using the ‘tongs of death’. Cutting and swabbing is also an alternative, although the stems are quite fine so applying sufficient herbicide to kill the plant can be a problem. Spraying with glyphosate is not recommended at this stage, as it will likely result in a substantial amount of off-target damage. Selective herbicides are available and while care is still required, they can be very effective in grassy ecosystems. These are best applied during flowering, before the fruits start to brown off. As with many persistent weeds, follow up over several years is likely to be needed. Contact your regional coordinator for more information including mixing rates for herbicide application.

WEED - H. perforatum

WEED - H. perforatum

At the rosette stage, during autumn and winter, plants can be wiped with a swabber or weed-brush or spot sprayed with glyphosate. Always take care to avoid off-target damage to native plants. When the upright stem develops, the rosette leaves die off, so the option of

References Muyt, A. 2001, Bush invaders of south-east Australia: a guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds in southeast Australia, R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Victoria Blood, K. 2001, Environmental weeds: a field guide for SE Australia, C.H. Jerram Science Publishers, Victoria

Case Study - Managing Lavandula stoechas ssp. stoechas

Taking care of business: Lavender control in the Clare Valley By Erica Rees BFL Regional Coordinator


ou might be aware of the extent of the topped lavender invasion of the Clare Valley. Lavandula stoechas ssp. stoechas reportedly escaped from a commercial plantation, which has since ceased to operate. The damage was done however, and for many years this weed has progressively taken over vineyards, pasture, and valuable areas of native vegetation. This plant is highly unpalatable to most domestic stock and so once it begins to spread through pasture, it can only be controlled by chemical or manual means.

Figure 1: Topped lavender (Lavandula stoechas ssp. stoechas)

Topped lavender produces prolific seed, which germinates all year round to form dense stands that compete with native plants. In the Clare Valley it has infested areas of high conservation significance, such as grassy woodlands containing two nationally endangered plant species: the white beauty spider-orchid (Caladenia argocalla) and osborn’s eyebright (Euphrasia collina). Very few landholders are actively managing the topped lavender on their properties perhaps the problem appears overwhelming. However, as with many woody weeds, a strategic,

Figure 2: White beauty spider-orchid (Caladenia argocalla)

long-term approach can win the battle against lavender invasion. In the Clare Valley a dedicated group of individuals representing a number of organisations has made great progress, particularly focusing on protecting important populations of the white beauty spider-orchid. Members of the Native Orchid Society of SA, Biodiversity and Endangered Species Team (DEWNR), Threatened Plant Action Group and Trees For Life are working together to get the better of this weed. The Bush For Life volunteers in the Clare Valley have for many years, been working in areas of high conservation value where topped lavender has severely threatened biodiversity. In mid 2011, with their existing sites now requiring less work, they collectively put their hands up to take on a new site, known as Neagles Rock. This site was also thick with topped lavender (as if they hadn’t had enough of it!). In the words of one of their number “It became a BFL site because we all think it’s great, the Euphrasia is often amazing and it’s just too nice a place to be so badly neglected”. BFL Operations Manager for the area, Alex Coombe, was observed by the group to be “in love at first sight” with the reserve, immediately recognizing its value and subsequently negotiating with a supportive Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council for it to become a Bush For Life site. Since then a group of eight bushcarers has worked on the reserve for two hours every second week. Some of the group have been regular bushcarers at the nearby Emu Flat BFL site for many years. Pam, Joan,

Figure 3: Osborn’s eyebright (Euphrasia collina)

Jim, Claire, Julie and others have largely brought under control the many weed issues of that site and now devote much of their attention to Neagles Rock. They were joined in 2011 by newcomers to BFL, Trev and Lina, hard working orchid enthusiasts who have also adopted two other BFL sites in the area. The five hectare reserve of peppermint box woodland slopes up to a central rocky outcrop, making the general site strategy reasonably straightforward – start at the top and work down. As the weed front is pushed down hill, there will be relatively little spread of weed seeds uphill, meaning minimal follow-up work. Of course there are still high priority areas elsewhere in the reserve, and not everyone feels capable of trekking to the summit when visiting the site

one of their working days back in September last year there were happy exclamations, from people down on their hands and knees in the lavender, at the marvels of the hidden plants they were uncovering, including a number of orchid species. It was wonderful to see that the diversity of native plants beneath the weeds had not yet succumbed to the intense competition. This highlights the resilience of our bushland, and demonstrates that it just needs a little ongoing help to tip the balance back in its favour, even in the face of a serious weed infestation. The Neagles Rock group are in the process of compiling a species list, which I think will be interesting and extensive, and may uncover another population of white beauty spider-orchids. While topped lavender in the Clare area is depressingly extensive and management generally seems to be in the too hard basket, the BFL carers are slowly but surely taking care of business in some of the most precious parts of the valley. Bush For Life schedules several group activities each year in the Clare Valley, including the ever popular Extended Bush Action Team. To join in and visit this unique site for yourself call Randall on 8406 0500.

Figure 4: Local volunteers Joan and Julie treating topped lavender

(though the views soften the impact of doing so!). The treatment methods used on lavender are hand-pulling juvenile plants when the ground is moist, and cutting and swabbing larger plants, which can be done any time of year. Neagles Rock also has a number of other weeds present that the group works on: Montpellier Broom, Cape Tulip, Bridal Creeper, and St John’s Wort, to name a few. When I attended

References CRC for Australian Weed Management, Factsheet: Garden escape, topped lavender in the Clare Valley, South Australia, Nicholson, H. 2006, Conflicting values of topped lavender Lavandula stoechas L.: the essential oil on a complex issues. In Proceedings of 15th Australian Weeds Conference, Adelaide, SA. Pp. 191-194.

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BFL Volunteering

Minkarra Reserve - Volunteers Needed

Private Bushland Property - Volunteers Needed

Flagstaff Hill - approximately 18km South of Adelaide

Ironbank - approximately 22km South East of Adelaide

A suburban beauty!

Wirra Birra Springs - come and see the native plant diversity

Bush For Life has added a new bushcare site to our program, a suburban gem hidden away in Flagstaff Hill called Minkarra Reserve.

Bushcarers are urgently needed for a gorgeous Heritage Agreement property with outstanding native plant diversity. This property is home to 170 species of native plants, and much of the bushland is in excellent condition, but is threatened by a narrow band of weeds mostly restricted to the boundaries.

Minkarra Reserve extends along the eastern side of Happy Valley Drive north from Manning Rd to Black Rd. Tucked away in the north east section is a beautiful patch of bushland supporting a Eucalyptus leucoxylon (blue gum) vegetation community with scattered Eucalyptus camaldulensis (red gum). Understorey species include Dianella longifolia var grandis, rated rare for South Australia, and several other species rated uncommon for the southern Mt Lofty Ranges. There is a Rotary walking track within the reserve which makes for a pleasant walk through the bushland and the adjacent recreation park. MiniBATs will be scheduled throughout the year with the first one being held on Friday 24 May. If you would like to help out on this beautiful patch of bushland please contact the Bush For Life Volunteer Coordinator on 8406 0542 or Leanne on 0407 387 652

Trees For Life

New seaside site at South Port Dunes


valuable coastal reserve has been added to the Bush For Life program at South Port dunes, Port Noarlunga, where the Onkaparinga River meets the sea. This area forms an extensive dune system between the river and South Port beach and has significant cultural and environmental significance. A dedicated group of volunteers, with the support of City of Onkaparinga, have been working in the dunes for a number of years on the conservation and restoration of important plant communities. Trees For Life will be supporting the continuing work of the volunteers, through the Bush For Life

Bush For Life Program program, to provide much needed assistance with weed removal and management. A number of weed species are a priority for control including highly invasive weed grasses Ehrharta villosa (pyp grass) and Ammophila arenaria (marram grass). Both of these are a major threat to the sensitive dune vegetation. The site is located south of the Port Noarlunga jetty at the end of the Esplanade. It is a quiet, easy to access site with 360 degree views of the hills and the sea from the higher dunes, and is a very

Majestic messmate stringy-barks make up the canopy, and the understorey consists of many heath, lily and orchid species, which turn it into a floral delight during spring. The land is exceptional habitat for wildlife, and is of high priority to protect with its 29 native plant species of conservation significance. This is a fantastic opportunity for those who love to be close to nature. Regional Coordinator Priya Spencer will be able to support you with minimal disturbance techniques to help preserve this special bushland. If you are interested in becoming involved, contact the Bush For Life Volunteer Coordinator on 8406 0542, or email

Trees For Life pleasant place to work. We are holding a BAT on Wednesday 15 May which will also be an invitation to the public to ‘Come and Try Bushcare’ to encourage anyone that may be interested in adopting the site or just helping out when they can. If you or anyone else you know would like to come along and help out at the site please contact Leanne Lawrence on 0407 387 652 or Emma, the Bush For Life Volunteer Coordinator on 8406 0542, or email

Bush For Life Program

Supporters: The Bush For Life program is supported by the South Australian Government through the Adelaide & Mt. Lofty Ranges NRM Board, the Murray Darling Basin NRM Board, the Northern & Yorke NRM Board and the Native Vegetation Council; participating local governments & corporate landholders, and Trees For Life members and donors.

Adelaide & Mt. Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board Northern & Yorke Natural Resources Management Board

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