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The Extreme Cactus Control Corp
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Whilst placing controls for a Kooyoora event, Julie Flynn
noticed a glade of well establish cactus high up on the northern slopes of the
mount. Why don't we clean it up? The issue was raised at the next meeting and
Andrew Wallace took on the role of liaising with the local cactus exterminators
in the landcare network. The next field day was set for a joint effort between
the club and the network.
It was suggested we bring wheel barrows to cart away
the juvenile plants. No-one who has been there could imagine getting a
wheelbarrow up that slope. This was the first indication that what we had
suggested was somewhat more extreme than the network was accustomed to. On the
day about ten orienteers and the landcare network coordinator scaled the slopes
and spent three hours injecting cactus. The highest infestation was near the
top of the mount. The main infestation was mid way up. Scattered plants were
found across the slope from top to bottom.
Some wheel cactus natural history:
The first serious wheel cactus infestation in the region
was on Mt Bukrabunyule. This is a small granite outcrop on private land north
of Wedderburn. The infestation was so dense it was impossible to walk up the
hill. From here the seeds were spread by birds to successive granitic outcrops.
There have been infestations on Mt Korong, Tarrengower and Kooyoora. If left
alone, the cactus would eventually make places like Korong and Kooyoora
Cactus takes three years to seed, and when it does, each
fruit can contain hundreds of seed. These seeds are long lived and sit in the
soil after an infestation has been cleared. The infestation on Mt Buckrabunyule
was cleared nine years ago, but lack of attention has seen the cactus come
Orienteers are well placed to find new infestations
and to destroy them. We go places few other people go. It is the out of
the way infestations that can get out of control and provide a seed bank
for the spread of the weed. Every course setter or course runner can
note where they see cactus. We can organise the eradication of
isolated plants without the need for a formal working bee. Larger
infestations will require a prolonged effort and then maintenance. We
were unable to get past the perimeter of the main Kooyoora infestation.
The plan is to return in 6-9 months and make further progress. And the
following year onwards probably.
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