Sunshine Coast Council Media Release

October 1, 2020

Though bright and beautiful, Fireweed is a fast-spreading invasive weed that can have a significant impact on local farmers, is poisonous to horses and livestock and is considered a high priority invasive plant to control on the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast Council is currently targeting fireweed in the Belli Park, Eumundi and Kenilworth areas and wants help from residents to keep an eye out for it.

Fireweed is classified as a restricted invasive plant in the Queensland Government Biosecurity Act 2014 and is one of the 79 invasive plant species listed as priority species in council’s Biosecurity Plan.

Fireweed is a short-lived plant that is currently flowering in bright yellow but it will soon start to die back as the weather gets warmer. Seeds emerge in a puffball soon after flowering and their feathery white parachute allows them to become airborne.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said council had been working with residents for some time to stop fireweed establishing in the region.

“Managing invasive plants, such as fireweed, helps to protect our farms,” Cr Suarez said.

“So far, we’ve managed to eradicate fireweed in Maleny, Yandina and Pelican Waters and now we’re focussing our efforts on helping landowners in the Belli Park, Eumundi and Kenilworth areas to eradicate it there.”

Division 10 Councillor David Law said local farmers had been doing a great job to minimise the impacts of fireweed, but it was an ongoing battle.

“Fireweed spreads very easily and can get onto a property through pasture seed, hay, turf, mulch, stock transport and machinery,” Cr Law said.

“It’s important to regularly monitor for fireweed and, like all invasive plants, it’s best to get in early and remove it before it becomes established.”

Council’s Pest Plant Officers are available to assist farmers with advice, identification and control of invasive plants.

If you think you may have seen fireweed recently, you can check by downloading the Fire weed identification form from the Queensland Government website.

If you have seen fireweed, please contact council on 5475 7272 to speak with a Pest Plant Officer.

Council offers a range of services to help with invasive plant management including free weed control hire equipment such as wick wipers, splatter guns, a mobile spray unit (400L) and knapsack kits.

To find out more and discover what other invasive plant species might be in your area, visit council’s website for more information by clicking here.

Fireweed facts:

  • One fireweed plant can produce 5000 to 30,000 seeds in a season which fall mostly within five metres of the parent plant.
  • Seeds spread by wind, stock, in pasture seed, hay, turf, mulch and with stock transport.
  • The fireweed stem fragments can also take root, so it’s important not to mow or slash it as this will cause further spread.
  • Seeds can remain dormant in the soil for 10 years so you need to monitor areas where fireweed has been long after you have removed the last plant.
  • Fireweed germinates when there is sunlight and the soil is moist. There is often a mass germination after rainfall.
  • Ideal conditions for fireweed are a dry summer followed by autumn or winter rains.
  • Fireweed usually dies-off after flowering in spring but some roots remain alive and will regrow in autumn.

How to identify fireweed:

You can tell fireweed apart from other plants like dandelions and native Senecio species by three main features:

  1. Petals are bright yellow, more than 2mm long and there are around 13 of them
  2. It has 18 to 22 involucral bracts per flower head (the green, leaf-like parts surrounding the leaves attached to the stem)
  3. Leaves are mostly whole, except for small teeth on the edges (lower leaves sometimes have a few large lobes).

The Queensland Government Biosecurity Act 2014 requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).

Council undertakes Biosecurity programs to help residents manage their biosecurity risks, and become compliant with the Biosecurity Act 2014.