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Published: 2014-09-02 00:00:00

Benson Lockhart is on a mission.

The Whitianga-based biosecurity officer for Waikato Regional Council is keen to wipe out as many boneseed plants as possible in coming months to help stop their spread on the Coromandel.

“Boneseed is a nasty pest plant that can blight natural areas and we want to eradicate it wherever we can,” said Benson.

“If given the chance it can take over coastal areas and restrict the regeneration of native coastal species.

“It flowers in spring, so it is easier to spot then, so I’ll be putting in a big eradication effort over spring and early summer. This involves cutting larger plants with a saw and pasting the cut with herbicide. Smaller plants can be pulled out by hand.”

So far boneseed has been found in Whangamata, Whiritoa, Whitianga, Ferry Landing, Cooks Beach, Otama, Port Jackson, Coromandel town, Te Kouma, Thames and on the Thames Coast.

Boneseed is a bushy shrub native to South Africa which grows up to three metres tall. It can grow in nutrient-poor soil and tolerates the salt of coastal areas. It has a yellow daisy like flower that can be seen from August through to February. It was introduced into New Zealand as a garden plant but has become invasive.

Large specimens can produce up to 50,000 seeds with seed remaining viable for up to 10 years. Boneseed’s fruit is eaten by birds and possum and the undigested seed can get spread by them.

Under the council’s regional pest management plan, boneseed is classified as a “progressive containment” species, which means it is technically the responsibility of landowners to control on their properties.

“We’re happy to help with stopping the spread but we do need landowners to join with us and eradicate it using herbicide or physical removal,” said Benson.

He said he would welcome sightings of the plant from the public or questions about eradication methods via the council’s 0800 800 401 freephone number.