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Total Control Plant Pests

Information on Total Control plant pests in Hawke's Bay which must be destroyed or prevented from seeding, with responsibility resting with the land occupier.

Total Control Plant Pests

A total control plant pest is a plant that has limited distribution in the region, and the long-term goal is to eradicate it completely. These plant pests must be destroyed or prevented from seeding wherever they appear.

Responsibility for control of these pests usually rests with the land occupier, although in ​some cases the Regional Council will undertake control, or assist the land occupier to do so​.

Here is a list of the Total Control Plant Pests:

AFRICAN FEATHER GRASS (Pennisetum macrourum)

  • Robust rhizomatous perennial grass forming dense tussocks up to 2m high.
  • Flowers/seeds: flowers from November to April coloured yellow purplish in a narrow cylinder with barbed bristles.
  • Dispersal: seed or rhizomes, machinery, water.
  • Problems: excludes other vegetation, can cause floods in waterways.
  • Control/disposal: spray, burn. 

APPLE OF SODOM (Solanum linnaeanum)

  • Spiny woody perennial shrub, 1.5m tall or more, prickly leaves and branches.
  • Flowers/seeds: mauve or violet flowers September to May, berries mottled green and white ripening to black.
  • Dispersal: birds and animals.
  • Problems: poisonous to humans and stock and very invasive.
  • Control/disposal: spray, dig out.

 AUSTRALIAN SEDGE (Carex longibrachiata)

  • Perennial tussock forming sedge 1m high.
  • Flowers/seeds: flowers are grouped in catkin like spikes October to February, seed is a small triangular nut.
  • Dispersal: animals, machinery.
  • Problems: leaves not palatable to stock, forms dense stands excluding other pasture species.
  • Control/disposal: dig out, spray.

CHILEAN NEEDLE GRASS (Nassella neesiana)

See Chilean needle grass page here

CHINESE PRIVET (Ligustrom sinence)

  • A more densely branched shrub up to 5m tall with smaller slightly hairy leaves up to 7cm long.
  • Flowers/seeds: produces terminal clusters of white flowers and black or blue-black berries.
  • Dispersal: birds.
  • Problems: can cause severe allergic reactions in people who suffer from respiratory problems. Privet may also cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal tenderness, gastroenteritis, skin irritations and dermatitis.
  • Control/disposal: large plants need to be stump cut and treated with a suitable herbicide. Smaller plants can be dug out and either burnt or taken to a commercial tip or composted.

COTTON THISTLE (Onopordum acanthium)

  • Prickly, biennial thistle forming large rosettes, spiny green leaves with white cottony hairs up to 2m tall.
  • Flowers/seeds: purple flowers.
  • Dispersal: animals and machinery.
  • Problems: sheep can develop scabby mouth, facial injuries, their fleece can be ruined, highly invasive.
  • Control/disposal: spray, dig out.

GOATS RUE (Galega officinalis)

  • Perennial woody herb up to 1m tall, usually growing into dense clumps with tall stems, and leaves like vetch.
  • Flowers/seeds: lilac/pink in bunches on spikes 30cm or more long.
  • Dispersal: gravel distribution and water
  • Problems: unpalatable and toxic to stock, growth chokes out other plants.
  • Control/disposal: dig out, spray.

JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera japonica)

  • A vigorous, perennial, climbing vine.
  • Flowers/seeds: flowers sweetly scented tubular and white, ageing to yellow, from September to May, egg shaped black berries 5-7mm in diameter.
  • Dispersal: birds and machinery.
  • Problems: climber has the ability to smother young trees, completely covering them from sunlight. Damage is most extensive on young or regenerating bush.
  • Risk Area: Honeysuckle control areas are outlined in the current Pest Management Strategy.
  • Control/disposal: spray, stock graze.

NASSELLA TUSSOCK (Stipa trichotoma)

  • Perennial, tussock like grass with dense fibrous tough roots, up to 0.5m high and 1m across with drooping leaf habit.
  • Flowers/seeds: purple flowers, from October to December, flower heads in open branched panicles which droop when mature.
  • Dispersal: mature seed stems are wind-borne, and can tumble over large distances as spreading seed.
  • Problems: this tussock can rapidly dominate grasslands smothering them and is unpalatable to stock. In grain and small seed growing areas its presence means that the products can not be used domestically or for export.
  • Control/disposal: dig out and deep burial, spray.

OLD MAN'S BEARD (Clematis vitalba)

  • Deciduous, perennial vine growing up to 5m per year, leaf made up of five leaflets on each spike.
  • Flowers/seeds: creamy white flowers from December to May, fluffy greyish white seed heads, can also grow from stem fragments.
  • Dispersal: birds, water, or gravel distribution, wind.
  • Problems: can smother and kill plants it uses as support, rapid growth forming a dense canopy prevents native seedlings from establishing.
  • Control/disposal: dig out, burn, spray, cut and treat stems.

PINUS CONTORTA (Pinus contorta)

  • Two needled pine up to 25m tall, small prickly cones less than 6cm long, bark is divided into small irregular plates or scales, yellow green to dark green needles are less than 9cm long.
  • Flowers/seeds: cones less than 5cm long with small hooks.
  • Dispersal: seeds are small and light and are capable of spreading up to 12km with the wind.
  • Problems: Pinus contorta spreads aggressively from individual plants or plantations into ungrazed native grasslands and scrublands, threatening nature conservation, landscapes, amenity values and recreational access.
  • Control/disposal: cut trunk to below ground level then spray.

PHRAGMITES (Phragmites australis)

  • An erect, rhizomatous, perennial grass, 2-3m high, 40% of the plant is underground.
  • Flowers/seeds: has brownish or purplish feathery shaped seed heads.
  • Dispersal: machinery and natural encroachment.
  • Problems: a weed of irrigation channels, drainage ditches and poorly drained areas, it has the ability to block or at least seriously impede the flow of water.
  • Control/disposal:spray, burn, compost, commercial landfill.

SAFFRON THISTLE (Carthanum lanatus)

  • Prickly bushy annual or biennial thistle with woody stems growing to about 1m high.
  •  Flowers/seeds: yellow flowers. Seeds are large with little down.
  • Dispersal: Seed dispersal is mainly by stock wool or hair, machinery and water.
  • Problems: Infestations can form impenetrable stands. The plant is woody when mature and is very spiky. The dry sharp spikes get into wool and can cause injury when shearing or handling sheep.
  • Control/disposal: Young plants at the rosette stage can be sprayed with a suitable herbicide, generally in spring, but as plants become mature and woody then need to be grubbed out or mown before seed becomes viable.

SPINY EMEX (Emex australis)

  • Low-lying and hairless annual herb, spreading from a dense rosette with a thick taproot. Leaves are dull green and are very similar to docks in shape.
  • Flowers/seeds: flowers are inconspicuous and are produced in clusters in between the leaves and stem. Fruits (or burrs) are in clusters, with each of the three-cornered burrs forming in the forks of the leaves. Ripe burrs, when shed, lie with one sharp spike upward.
  • Dispersal: stock and machinery.
  • Problems: burrs can injure animals and humans and cause lameness. Wool can be down-graded when containing the seeds. Plants contains oxalate levels which are high enough to poison sheep if they eat substantial amounts.
  • Control/disposal: by grubbing, use of herbicide at the rosette stage.

TREE PRIVET (Ligustrom lucidum)

  • A broad leafed, hairless shrub up to 10m in height. Leaves are egg shaped and up to 12cm long.
  • Flowers/seeds: produces terminal clusters of white flowers and black or blue-black berries.
  • Dispersal: birds.
  • Problems: can cause severe allergic reactions in people who suffer from respiratory problems. Privet may also cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal tenderness, gastroenteritis, skin irritations and dermatitis.
  • Control/disposal: large plants need to be stump cut and treated with a suitable herbicide. Smaller plants can be dug out and either burnt or taken to a commercial tip or composted.

WHITE EDGED NIGHTSHADE (Solanum marginatum)

  • Many-branched perennial shrub, prickly stem and leaves, green leaves with white veins and white felt on leaf under-surface.
  • Flowers/seeds: white/pale mauve flowers, round green fruit ripening to yellow, light brown seeds.
  • Dispersal: water, birds.
  • Problems: displaces native species, fruit is toxic.
  • Control/disposal: pull out, spray.

WOOLLY NIGHTSHADE (Solanum mauritianum)

  • Shrub or small tree up to 10m tall, leaves greyish green and covered with feltlike hairs.
  • Flowers/seeds: purple flowers, green berries which turn yellow when ripe.
  • Dispersal: birds.
  • Problems: aggressively invasive and very fast-growing plant which may form dense stands beneath which little else will grow. Because it is so invasive it can threaten native bush regeneration. People handling woolly nightshade may suffer nausea and irritation of the skin and respiratory tract.
  • Control/disposal: dig out, burn, spray, cut and treat stump.

YELLOW WATER LILY (Nuphar lutea)

  • Aquatic perennial yellow flowered water lily with massive rhizomes, oblong dark green leaves up to 40cm long and 30cm wide.
  • Flowers/seeds: yellow flowers, up to 6cm wide with strongly alcoholic aroma.
  • Dispersal: rhizome encroachment and movement of fragmented pieces but also by seed.
  • Problems: can totally invade slow running waterways or lakes, choking native plants and slowing water flow.
  • Control/disposal: spray.

What you can do to help

​We rely on Hawke's Bay residents to be our eyes and ears looking out and reporting unusual organisms so we can respond immediately. Whether you are a landowner, lifestyle property owner or urban resident, there are plant pests that will require dealing with at some time or another.

Find out more about specific plant pests in our information sheets.

If you would like help with a pest control problem, or wish to report anything you think our Pest Control team should know about you can do so on our Fix It page.


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