Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, land managers have an obligation to address the risks this plant poses. To demonstrate compliance with the General Biosecurity Duty, in relation to this plant, the North Coast Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017-2022 states:
Within the Exclusion zone (Including Bellingen Shire):
Landholder/Land Managers Responsibility
- The plant is eradicated from the land and the land is kept free of the plant
- Land managers mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land
- Establish agreed quarantine and/or hygiene protocols
- Surveillance and mapping to locate all infested properties and maintain currency of exclusion zone and objectives
- Monitor change in current distribution to ensure containment of spread
- High level analysis of pathways to identify potential introduction areas and preventative options
Council will be undertaking strategic removal of Cockspur coral trees on public and Council managed lands, starting with trees higher in the catchments along waterways and flood ways which pose the greatest threat for spreading. By starting upstream and working towards the coast, we aim to prevent re-infestation as this species can spread from both seed and cuttings or broken branches.
Council requires landholder co-operation to eradicate this species from their land which will ensure both public and private efforts are maximised, and landholders are discharging their duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015. This includes initial removal and on-going removal of seedlings and regrowth as the seedbank in the soil depletes, replanting with natives is encouraged to outcompete other weeds from taking its place.
How does this weed affect you?
Cockspur coral tree can dominate waterways and floodplains where they outcompete native vegetation, reduce food and habitat for native animals, and have a major negative impact on soil stability and nutrient levels. Additionally, the tree has rose-like thorns which can prohibit access and be dangerous to people and animals if thickets are formed.
In the Bellingen Shire this species is present occasionally and localised in small clusters along the rivers from Darkwood to the Coast. There are numerous trees which appear to have been intentionally planted as an ornamental garden plant, and it is from these plants we are seeing it spread along waterways.
Because the presence of this plant is limited and localised within our shire, it is reasonable that this species can be eradicated as the cost for public and private landholders to discharge their Biosecurity Duty is not unreasonable – compared to the risk this species poses to the environment, economy, and community if action isn’t taken.
Identification and Control
Visit NSW WeedWise for in-depth identification and control information.
Physical removal of seedlings is recommended. Most occurrences in the shire are isolated so spraying is generally not recommended due to the increased cost and volume of herbicide used. Cut stump method is recommended for small to medium trees. For large trees, stem injection method is recommended as described below from the lowest point in a spiral/bric-a-brac pattern up the trunk.
Small cuttings can be put in the green bin, larger cuttings can be burnt (approvals may be required), mulched and composted, or taken to a waste management centre for composting.
Successful weed control relies on follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth and new seedlings until the seedbank in the soil is depleted. Using a combination of control methods is usually most successful.
When planning a good control program, replacement with native species or competitive pastures is vital for long-term weed control. If safe to do so, large trees can be poisoned and left dead standing to continue to provide habitat as other trees grow around it. A revegetation guide including species selection can be found below
Bellinger River Estuary revegetation guide
If you spot this weed in the shire, please notify the Council’s Invasive Plants Team. Council will continue to undertake inspections of both public and private lands in the shire to ensure appropriate control is taking place moving towards the eradication of this species.