A not so golden child of our floodplains

News article |

The Riverland District staff have been hitting the water over the summer months, conducting surveys of our river, creeks and floodplains.

Posted 29 March 2021.

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board District Manager Hannah Spronk said, we are thankful staff haven’t found any aquatic weeds in the river’s upper reaches. They have, however, spotted other weeds that are concerning.

“Noogoora burr and golden dodder have hit the radar of district staff, with the two weeds often found together,” Ms Spronk said.

“Both these weeds have been sighted on the river banks, creek beds and edges of wetlands across the Riverland.

In some instances, golden dodder has been found hosting on noogoora burr.

Golden dodder is a parasitic (it lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from the host) leafless plant that twines its way around a broadleaf host, such as noogoora burr.

The weed takes nutrients from the soil and can kill its host plant. Golden dodder is a particular threat to irrigated crops such as lucerne, vegetables, pastures and seed crops. It’s dense mat of twining stems causes damage to native vegetation by smothering and outcompeting them.

The tiny seeds of golden dodder can remain viable for some time and are very easily transported by water, stock, machinery and animals, including birds.

If eaten in large amounts, golden dodder can be fatal to some stock, quickly invading native vegetation, removing nutrients and killing host plants.

Control for this pest plant often focuses on tackling the host, which prevents the golden dodder from surviving.

Undertaking noogoora burr control removes the host plant and therefore prevents the golden dodder from surviving or reproducing.

“Our staff continue to survey creek lines and river banks, particularly downstream of known infestation sites as the weeds can be spread easily by water.

“With such a mild summer, we don’t expect to see golden dodder around for too much longer.

“But increased numbers of tourists holidaying in the region may unwittingly cause this weed to spread more easily.

“We want to protect our native vegetation from this parasitic weed and prevent it from destroying irrigated crops and pastures.

Under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, golden dodder is a notifiable weed, so if you suspect you have found some, please contact the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape and National Parks office, Berri phone: 8580 1800.

People can also report suspected weed infestations via the SA Weed Control app, easily downloaded onto smart phones.

The program is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the landscape levies.

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