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Weedspotting is Fun!

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Queensland Herbarium’s Senior Ecologist, Dr Melinda Laidlaw led the FINIA Weedspotter Workshop held at the Maryborough Town Hall in November 2020. Fourteen FINIA and community members joined Mel for her two-hour introduction to weed spotting. 

Dr Melinda Laidlaw, Senior Ecologist with the Queensland Herbarium (Photo: Sue Sargent)

Did you know that there are 1400 naturalised species in Queensland with an average of 10 new weeds becoming established across the state each year? A naturalised species is a non-native plant that does not need human help to reproduce and maintain itself over time in an area where it is not native.

Weed Spotters help find, identify, and document those new occurrences of potential weeds early to limit impacts. It provides a community-based weed alert system in Queensland, based on the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management model.

Melinda’s presentation covered the General Biosecurity Obligation (or GBO) under the Biosecurity Act 2016 and an overview of some of Queensland’s biggest weed threats. These included the Blind and Bunny Ear cacti (check out which cacti you have at home) and the prolific Mexican bean tree, producing more than 100,000 seeds a year. 

No doubting the identification of these cacti – any guesses on its common name?

Melinda offered practical suggestions where community members can help – spotting plants that ‘out of place.’ You can take photos of the plant (whole plant, leaves, and flowers or seeds) and submit these with a date and detailed location to your Weed Spotter local coordinator (Juliet Musgrave with Fraser Coast Regional Council) or the Duty Botanist at the Queensland Herbarium for identification.

There is also a Weed Spotter App. for Android phones that you can use.  A full plant (including leaves, flowers or fruit and roots) can also be collected and pressed (take care not to drop any seeds) for more positive identification. 

To learn more about how to identify weeds, share information with the right people to attack the problem, and make our landscapes – from bushland to parks to properties better places, please join the Weed Spotter Network.

Weed spotters receive access to a free handbook, and a weed spotters bulletin each month (with information on current and emerging weeds, weed spotter activities and a list of regional contacts). 

To join Weed Spotters Network Queensland, please fill in the application form here.

Contributed by Dr Melinda Laidlaw, Weed Spotters Network Queensland, Queensland Herbarium

If you find a new or emerging weed in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact either your Weed Spotter Regional Coordinator, the Queensland Herbarium or Biosecurity Queensland so that they can check on its identification for you and advise if any further action is necessary.


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