Bitou bush is one of the worst weeds in Australia. It invades coastal habitats, smothering and outcompeting native vegetation and eliminating native ecosystems. Bitou bush has invaded over 80% of the New South Wales coastline and has the potential to spread along coastal Victoria, destroying the natural coastal environments in its path.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) in partnership with the Commonwealth Government, Frankston City Council and Mornington Peninsula Shire are eradicating an isolated population of Bitou bush at Davey's Bay. The works are targeting an area between Olivers Hill and the Davey’s Bay Yacht Club to prevent the spread of this invasive plant throughout Victoria.
The Commonwealth Governments Caring for Our Country initiative is funding these works, with support from the Victorian Government. A DEPI contractor will be carrying out the eradication and revegetation on-site.
As part of the project, residents will be offered assistance to eradicate Bitou bush from private land near Davey’s Bay.
Works will be occurring:
- October - November 2011
- April - May 2012
- April - June 2013
Monitoring and follow up treatments will continue for the next seven to ten years to ensure the infestation has been completely eradicated.
What is Bitou bush?
Bitou bush is a sprawling, woody shrub that grows to approximately two metres. Its leaves are fleshy and rounded with smooth or slightly serrated edges. Young leaves are often covered in fine hairs which look like white cottony down.
The bush has 2-3cm yellow daisy-like flowers, each with 11-13 petals. It has small egg shaped green fruit that ripen to black, with each berry containing one dark brown seed. Bitou bush can flower year-round, but peaks in April to June.
Boneseed: Another serious weed threat in Victoria, Boneseed is closely related to Bitou bush and the two species are often mistaken. Boneseed, though, grows more upright, has toothed leaves, less petals (3-8 petals) and its seeds are bone-coloured when dry. The NSW Government provides a detailed comparison of the two species.
Spread: Bitou bush fruit is eaten by birds and other animals, spreading the seeds many kilometres. Seeds can also be spread by wind, creeks, waterways and ocean currents. Human activities can also spread seeds, through the movement of plants and soil containing seeds.
Where is it?
There are two known Bitou bush infestations in Victoria - at Davey’s Bay and Mallacoota.
In Davey’s Bay, the infestation is focused on a 1.3 kilometre section of coastal cliffs and embankments, with a small number of plants on nearby private property. Eradicating Bitou bush here, together with addressing infestations in Mallacoota and Menindee Lakes in NSW, will help prevent further spread along Victoria’s coastline. Weeds Australia provides a map of current Bitou bush infestations in Eastern Australia.
How are we eradicating it?
At Daveys’ Bay, Bitou bush will be cut off at the base and the stump poisoned to minimise soil disturbance on the cliff face. In the first year, Bitou bush will be removed from the top third of the cliffs. The following years will focus further down the slope towards the beach.
For every Bitou bush plant removed on public land, at least two indigenous species of plants will be planted in its place.
Monitoring and removal of Bitou bush plants will continue until all plants and seed bank have been eradicated from the site.
Other weeds: Bitou bush/boneseed hybrids will be removed, as well as some populations of Boneseed. Other weeds in this area are well established in Victoria and are not a focus of this project.
What if I have Bitou bush on my land?
Community involvement is crucial to the success of the project. The community is encouraged to report Bitou bush on their property in the Davey’s Bay area and across Victoria.
If you suspect you have Bitou bush on your property near Davey’s Bay and Mt Eliza please contact the Bitou bush hotline 0488 346 636.
It is important to avoid disturbing or removing any Bitou bush yourself.
DEPI will work with landholders to remove these weeds and dispose of all plant materials at a quarantine landfill. Suitable indigenous species will be offered as replacement plants.
For public safety, some sections of beach and beach access points will be temporarily closed while the works are underway.
Notifications of temporary beach access closures will be published in local newspapers and signage located at beach entry points.
For further information please contact the Bitou bush hotline 0488 346 636.
Alternatively, Weeds Australia has more information on this invasive species.