For many gardeners and non-gardeners, the notion of weeds is that they are this very bad thing that grows too fast and makes the place look ugly. However, the issue of weeds is more complicated. They cause a lot of damage to our natural environment. They cost billions of dollars a year and have a large impact on our biodiversity.
What is a weed?
The definition of a weed is
“a plant that grows very quickly where it is not wanted and covers or kills more desirable plants”
Basically, it is a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow. This might seem like a simple concept but when we start delving deeper into the topic there are areas of grey in between something that seems quite black and white. In this blog, we are going to focus on the different types of weeds.
Different Types of Weeds
There are several different types of weeds, the common garden variety weeds, environmental weeds and agricultural weeds. Therefore, a plant that might be a weed in one category may not be in another. Or a weed in one location and not another. This classification has to do with the impact that weed has on the environment or industry.
For example, Corymbia torelliana or the Cadagi tree is a beautiful fast growing tree native to Far North Queensland. The Cadagi tree was planted in large numbers in the 70s and 80s around South East Queensland . It is a beautiful shade tree. It is now declared a n environmental weed in South East Queensland and soon to be New South Wales. Why you ask? As with any plant that is taken out of its natural environment. You never really know the effect it will have. The Cadagi tree has done very well for itself in South East Queensland. Its canopy shades out native species in natural environments changing the diversity of the existing vegetation. They also have a detrimental effect on the native stingless bees who live in South East Queensland. The seeds clog hives when taken back to the nest by the bees killing the hive. It has become a significant issue in the protection of native stingless bees.
However, in Northern Queensland, this tree continues on as it has always done as part of the natural ecosystem.
Weeds of all types have significant impacts on natural ecosystems and human and animal health. Alone they cost Australia’s agriculture industry at least $5 billion per year. Let alone what they do in our towns and cities or natural areas. Some weeds have national significance and as such have been declared as a Weeds of National Significance (WONS). These have a detrimental impact across the whole country. Government organisations have programs and funding iin place to help with weed eradication.
So What Can You Do?
It might seem like a hopless task but everything helps contribute to the control of weeds and helps protect our biodiversity. The CSIRO is releasing a new app in 2023 called Weedscan so keep an eye out for this. It will allow you to simply scan a weed with your phone via an app that will let you know if the plant is a weed. It will also report it directly to biosecurity. So how can you help? The best way is to be informed.
- Check your local councils restricted and prohibited plant lists.
- Check your state government and other invasive plant lists. Queenslands list can be found here.
- Think carefully of where you are before plant. For example, some plants not yet classified as weeds are known to spread into bushland. Don’t plant these if you live near bushland or conservation areas.
Finally, if you need help we are happy to discuss your project and how we might help you with your weed problem.