April 3, 2013
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is aiming to eradicate the remaining infestations of the potentially devastating Poverty weed (iva axillaris Pursh), which is a State Prohibited weed in Victoria. DPI Biosecurity Area Leader Greg Wood said that chemicals in the roots of the weed inhibit the growth of other plants. The plant is unpalatable to livestock and large root reserves enable the plant to thrive, even in drought conditions. “Poverty weed is a significant problem in North America, and Australia is the only other continent with an infestation,” Mr Wood said. So far, the weed has infested the Clare region of South Australia and the Quambatook and Dingwall areas of Victoria. “The weed was eradicated in the Clare region many years ago, leaving the only known Australian infestations in Victoria, which DPI is working to eradicate.” DPI staff have surveyed properties in the vicinity of known infestations in the Quambatook and Dingwall areas over the past two summers to determine the extent of the weed’s growth. The most recent work has been in the Dingwall area, where 60 properties were inspected, and no new infestations were found. Poverty weed is a perennial herb which grows up to 40 cm high and reproduces from creeping roots and from seed. Poverty weed is a strong competitor and is often the only species present in dense infestations. Its roots produce aerial shoots each spring and these shoots flower and seed before the aerial growth dies in autumn. Mr Wood said that if farmers suspect they have Poverty weed on their property, they should contact the local DPI office for verification. “Farmers should not treat the weed themselves. Treatment of State Prohibited weeds is a DPI responsibility and the department covers all treatment costs,” Mr Wood said. “With such a small number of infestations all occurring in one locality, eradication of Poverty weed is achievable. There are very few other weed species that are in this category.