Pretty weeds are still weeds

Pretty weeds are still weeds

When a plant is growing where it doesn’t belong, especially when it overgrows or chokes out the natives, it becomes a weed. Weeds decrease flora biodiversity and contribute to land degradation. A lot of weeds are quite pretty, but that doesn’t mean they are harmless.

Senecio elegans is a perfect example. This purple daisy has a bright yellow centre and toothed to deeply dissected leaves. Also called purple groundsel, it is originally from South Africa and grows well in sandy soil. It is found throughout the peninsula: beside the path to Anvil Beach, in the dunes at the beach, and along the road verges.

Senecio elegans going to seed

This spring NCI and other local volunteers put a lot of time and effort into pulling these weeds. We think we’ve managed to get most, though not all, of the ones we have seen. Some were too far over the dunes, some were hiding in the bush, and some were on private property. Next year we’ll have another go.

It would be great if everyone could lend a hand. If you see any, could you do a bit of weeding? Be sure not to leave flowers or buds on the ground because the seeds will still mature and spread. They need to be taken home and burned, or soaked in glyphosate and discarded in a sealed plastic bag. It’s easy to distinguish the native Senecio from the invaders as all of our natives have yellow flowers (except Senecio leucoglossus which has white or pale purple flowers). The natives have done well this year, so leave those ones to flourish. And remember all this for next spring! Weeding is always a work in progress.

Senecio elegans covers beach dunes