Articles primarily about environmental Weeds of Merri Creek, or of my local area, the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
- Category: Weeds
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I used not to think so, but I'm starting to think we do have a problem.
Most people are familiar with the edible prickly pear, which has large paddle-shaped "leaves" (they are actually flattened stems) with small prickles. Many don't realise that there are lots of prickly pear species. Some species have enormous (5cm long) needle sharp prickles, and some have lots of very fine prickles (glochids) that break off if the plant is disturbed and blow around, and if you get them on your skin they can cause nasty sores. If you breathe them in... well... Just dont. Serious injuries can occur through contact with prickly pear.
In Australia twenty-seven species of prickly pear and similar cacti (the "Opuntiod" weeds) are recognised as Weeds of National Significance, and are some of Australia's worst weeds.
I have started mapping prickly pear species on Merri Creek. This has been helped enormously by going to the Opuntioid Weeds Workshop held on 14 May, and learning to recognise the species. Along with other participants in the workshop I was given two fantastic resources - a field identification guide for opuntioid weeds, and a management guide for Opuntioid weeds.
I have to say I have been shocked by the number of species of prickly pear present along Merri Creek, and I have only surveyed from the Yarra River as far upstream as North Coburg. I know there is worse in Fawkner and Reservoir. So far I have found 6 species in 30 occurrences.