Learning about weeds at Cradle
The November working bee crew of Wildcare Cradle Mountain Volunteers (WCCMV), together with Parks staff, additional Wildcare members and a few others, convened for a fabulously informative day on environmental weeds with Mark Wapstra.
Mark is an absolute fountain of knowledge and started the day by letting us know that he wasn’t about to spend time indulging in the death by powerpoint approach to a workshop, nor did he expect us to remember all the plants he’d introduce us to. The latter was an enormous relief to at least some of us. A quick ‘round the room’ identified a range of capabilities and experience/knowledge in relation to Tasmania’s environmental weeds.
Mark’s introduction to the subject matter was peppered with lovely anecdotes, including those related to the importation of weeds with soil, road construction materials, and a number of other situations. To say nothing of some lovely stories of weed identification and removal – which may have been mixed, then or later, with stories and examples of uncertainty of whether a given plant was a weed or not. All very reassuring for those of us who are rank amateurs!
After a short time, references to and examination of the material he had brought to share, and an appropriate hot cup of the preferred beverage, we moved outside for the amateurs’ game of guessing native/weed – and that was just on the footpath outside the interpretation centre! Identification was accompanied by Mark’s discussion of the relative risk of introduced weeds in such an environment.
From there we progressed to the carpark – where it was quite delightful to find that Mark’s predicted ‘weeds are close to the roadside’ was reflected – we found some lovely little natives and only a few unpleasant visitors, which from memory included an invasive sorrel, some dandelions and, I think, hairy lotus.
After lunch, a most salubrious mix of leftovers from the Parks Christmas party the previous evening (to which Wildcare volunteers had been invited) and freshly delivered pizza, we progressed to further weed identification of specimens – which included some serious nasties such as foxglove, mullein, and the South African orchid, Disa bracteate.
We proceeded to investigate the newly planted visitor centre areas, where the difference between the native/non-native dandelion and other plantains was explained, along with the most subtle difference between native and invasive grasses, along with probably a lot of other things I don’t remember (Mark had already said that would be the case… )
One of the more important identifications was that of bent – Agrostis sp. (I think), which was a focus the following day for removal, along with non-native plantains, from the various planted beds.