By ERWIN CHLANDA
A new assault on prickly invaders into the Telegraph Station National Park is under way.
The coral cactus (Clyindropuntia fulgida), also known as the boxing glove cactus, has infected about 12 hectares of the park, and a treatment trial has brought limited results.
Five plants spread over about five hectares have been sprayed with Garlon mixed at 30mL per 1L of water about a year ago.
But the kill is taking twice as long as a similar treatment in Queensland, where the method has been pioneered. Big plants are still alive.
Sprayers have observed that the fluid runs off easily. Also, the dry conditions may have contributed to the slow absorption of the poison.
“The treatment of [three of the plants] would appear to be progressing successfully, with no new segments produced from the remaining green parts of the plant,” says Andy Vinter, of the Batchelor Institute, which is conducting the trial together with the Parks and Wildlife Commission.
“They will now work together on a second trial using a different herbicide mix to see if this produces a better result,” says a spokesman for the Parks Minister Matt Conlan.
“Cacti are very slow growing and they have a very slow rate of spread, mainly by vegetative reproduction rather than seed.
“Most of the cacti come from when the reserve was bordered by a caravan park that had a lot of long term residents who had these plants in gardens.
“Cacti have very little impact on native species,” says the spokesman.
Says Mr Vinter: “Of this group only [plant 1] may have produced viable segment regrowth (to be determined).
“All of these plants were similar in size (medium). The largest plant has not been successfully treated and despite significant die-back is producing new segments from green parts of the stem (and branches).
“This patchy die-back may indicate incomplete coverage of the herbicide mixture at the time of application. Presumably being a larger plant its has greater energy reserves for recovery if this is the case,” says Mr Vinter.
By ERWIN CHLANDA