What are weeds?
Many of the weedy species invading natural areas are ornamental plants. These plants were originally valued for their looks. But over time they ‘jumped the garden fence’ and went wild.
Many of these ‘good plants gone bad’ are still being grown in gardens.
Where do weeds come from?
Most of New Zealand’s weeds were brought in to New Zealand as garden plants. There are over 24,000 introduced plants growing in gardens and nurseries in New Zealand. A rough rule of thumb is that 10% of these will naturalise (establish in the wild), and 10% of these will become serious pests.
Most of the spread of weeds in New Zealand is because of people. They bring in new plants that escape and dump garden waste in bush reserves.
Why worry about weeds?
There are now more introduced plant species growing wild in New Zealand than native plant species. Only a handful of weed species have ever been successfully eradicated from New Zealand.
Weeds threaten the long-term survival of some native animals by changing or destroying their habitat, reducing the availability of food or breeding sites, or influencing the way native and introduced animals behave.
Weeds threaten the ecosystems of our natural areas – our coasts and dunes, tussocklands and alpine areas, parks and reserves, wetlands and bush areas. They displace native vegetation and lead to modified ecosystems that are not good habitat for native species.
What can you do?
If we are to protect and restore our ecology, we have to fight a ‘war on weeds’. A good place to start is to find out what weeds are in your area. You can then start to look at replacing any of these problem plants.
Talk to your friends, family, neighbours and classmates about the work you are doing in your own backyards. Encourage them to do the same.
Join community groups who are getting rid of weeds in your local reserves, parks, and other natural areas. Any help you can give will make a big difference.
The links below will give you some starting points for how to get involved in the ‘war on weeds’: