Category Archives: Flora

Is this a weed?….

Is this a Weed – Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia)? By Karen Hising

One of the most common questions I am asked as a Bushcare Officer: “Is this a weed?” And quite often the person asking the question is referring to the native Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia).

Polyscias sambucifolia is a variable small to large shrub or sometimes even a compact tree. The leaves are compound, with clusters of succulent bluish-grey fruit in Summer.

An important colonising species in regenerating areas, it can appear as a single plant or in small dense forests before other species have the opportunity to regenerate. At Blackheath Centenary Reserve, where all large shrubs and trees have been removed for powerline safety, swathes of Polyscias have appeared over time and have shaded out groundlayer and grassy weeds. Fortunately, it has not grown too tall to warrant removal under the powerlines – yet!

Polyscias sambucifolia covered in swathes of webbing Photo credit: Mariko Ward

This plant also provides feeding opportunities for local wildlife. Birds enjoy feasting on the fruit, which is how it is widely propagated. The Elderberry Panax Leaf Roller (Cryptoptila australiana) can infest the whole plant in swathes of webbing. The larvae live in a communal shelter made of leaves joined with silk and feed on the foliage. They are dark-brownish green, with orange spots and white hairs. Pupation occurs within the larval shelter. The plant can look quite bedraggled from the impacts of these insects, but they generally bounce back once the caterpillars finalise their lifecycle to moths and move on. Birds may also enjoy feeding on these larvae.

Whilst it may not be considered a particularly attractive plant (particularly when covered in webbing), it can be an important part of some ecosystems.

Polyscias – from the Greek word, poly, meaning many, and skias, meaning shade, possibly referring to the shade from many leaves; and sambucifolia – referring to leaves which resemble Sambucus, the Elderberry.

There is some debate pronouncing the genus name – poly-sy-as or pol-is-kias

Award Winning Powerful Owl’s Nest – Waste to Art

Another great reason to come along to the Threatened Species Day at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, in Katoomba (Saturday 7th, September).

View the awarding winning Powerful Owl’s nest made during a series of Waste To Art community workshops held across the Blue Mountains. The sculpture is made from waste fabrics, to highlight that Australians are buying 27kg of new clothes annually and over 20kg ends up in Blue Mountains residents’ garbage bins each year.

At the Regional Waste to Art Community Exhibition held in Oberon recently the Blue Mountains entry was awarded first prize in the Community 3D category. A fantastic result as the exhibition featured about 120 artworks, from 14 NetWaste councils, that were all made from everyday rubbish.

Waste to Art aims to encourage the whole community to rethink their own waste and promote a low waste lifestyle. By taking action to Reduce, Reuse and Repair over buying new, it saves resources like water and energy that go into manufacturing new items.

Our collective efforts do make a difference and also help threatened species like the Powerful-Owl which is found across the Blue Mountains in old growth forests.

Gully combined day 2018

Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted 35 Volunteers from Garguree swampcare and Friends Of Katoomba falls groups and the broader BC community in our annual Kedumba Catchment Gully get-together.

David King welcoming the group onto country

It was a great success, with a wonderful community feel and a great boost to The Upper Kedumba Bushcare site, with so many enthusiastic and committed helping hands we also had 5 new volunteers join in.

After a full work morning we indulged in a wonderful shared feast and heard from Eric Mahony about works in the catchment and how our workdays positively impact on it and Jane about our Bushcare native bee metropolis and who we would likely see using the bee hotels.

We were working on 4 different site components, giving a variety of work options to the volunteers so they could join in with tasks to challenge them and also tasks where they would feel familiar and relaxed.

Our work day consisted of

1 – Continuing to create a wetland soak in the low lying section of Upper Kedumba, to change the environmental conditions currently present, trying to create a wetter area hoping to diminish annual grasses and create more habitat for aquatic critters, whilst slowing the flow of the water in big rain events capturing it on site , and stripping nutrients from it.

In Feb/March we hope to plant this area out with Juncus and other sedges

Installation of water detention devices

Installation of water detention devices

2 – Continuing on with a creation of a mulch path through the site – The long-term vision is to create a site where local community will feel inclined to walk through it and stop and find out about local native bees, fauna and habitat creation and why these things are needed and how important they are in our local environment.

3- Removal of small and large privets in bands across the slope – this work will be supported by a day of contracting works in the next 3 months and continued planting of endemic species.

4- Removal of Montbretia from a drainage line.

Thank you to all who came along and helped with our ongoing Bushcare works
By Jane Anderson

Changes to the Noxious Weeds Act 1993

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

From the 1st of July 2017 the NSW Government has replaced the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 with the Biosecurity Act 2015. Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, the Blue Mountains City Council, as the Local Control Authority, has a legal obligation to manage the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by reducing the impacts of Priority Weeds.

WHAT IS BIOSECURITY?

Biosecurity refers to the protection of native plant communities; reducing the risk to human health: and the risk to agricultural production, from invasive weeds.

WHAT DOES THE NEW BIOSECURITY ACT MEAN FOR ME?

Under the Biosecurity Act, landowners have a responsibility to control the risk that Priority Weeds on their property pose to neighbouring bushland and properties.

Residents will see a change in the terminology used, for example, the term Noxious Weed will be replaced with Priority Weeds or Biosecurity Matter, and weed notices/orders will be issued as Biosecurity Directions under the Biosecurity Act. There are also some changes target invasive plants identified as Priority Weeds compared to previous Noxious Weeds lists.

Therefore the Noxious Weeds Classification of individual weeds is no longer correct.

Will the Biosecurity Act change the way Council manages weeds on private property?

No. Council’s Urban Weeds Program and the process for inspecting private properties for invasive weeds will continue unchanged. Council will also maintain its current approach to education and enforcement relating to invasive weeds. Council will maintain the current process for issuing Weed Control Notices. The main differences will be the terminology used and that Orders will be issued under the Biosecurity Act. They will be known as Biosecurity Directions.

For further information on Priority Weeds in the Blue Mountains please download the Priority Weeds Information Booklet here;

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/files/PriorityWeedsInformationBooklet.pdf

Blue Mountains Priority Weeds Information

For further information on the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017, and can be found on:

Department of Primary Industries website

https://greatersydney.lls.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/722368/Greater-Sydney-Regional-Weed-Mgmt-Plan-29-June-2017_FINAL-web-res.pdf

or download the FREE NSW Department of Primary Industries weed app

NSW Weedwise app

Where you will find the weeds listed for the Blue Mountains including a profile of the weed and your Biosecurity duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Swampcare at North Hazelbrook

Do you have a swamp in your backyard or interested in swamp restoration?

Then come join us for this very special event in Hazelbrook, where you will learn the basic principles about swamp restoration whilst giving this swamp a helping hand.

The swamp is located off Rocklea Street, which is the very north end of the urban area and is still in its early stages of being restored, so there is plenty of primary work to be done on a variety of weeds – Erica, buddleia, privet, crofton weed.

A FREE delicious lunch and morning tea has been kindly donated by Hominy Bakery.

Bookings are essential so please RSVP via the link on this page or contact Stephanie at schew@bmcc.nsw.gov.au. by Thursday 20 September.

https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/event/swampcare-at-north-hazelbrook/

Where: Rocklea Street, North Hazelbrook
When: Friday, 28 September @ 9:00 am3:00 pm

Calling all “Buzzinators”   

In celebration of Pollinator week (12th – 19th November)

Can you use your November work day as a day to check your Bushcare Site Bee Hotels?

See who is using them and then email your results to phillipnelson100@gmail.com the convener of the Pollinator website and we will start to compile a list of who’s who – and where…

You can get an idea of which bees you have on site by checking how they are closing up the nest hollows in your Bee Home. Check out Megan Halcroft’s www.beesbusiness.com.au – a very valuable resource!

And this spring remember Pollinators need Food – flowers, shelter and water.

And if your Bushcare site does not have a Bee Hotel do not despair! In early 2018 we will be running another bee hotel making workshop in the lower Mountains. Watch This Space … details coming soon!

The BMCC Bush Regeneration Team

Back row from left: Matthew Steele, Jane Anderson, Matthew Rudge, Aaron McKellar, Sue Cunningham. Front row John Parkinson, Helen Munro, Justine Vella. (Team Leader). Absent: Lynn Godfree, Stephanie Chew, Robert Hajjar.

Did you know that Council has its very own team of bush regenerators quietly beavering away behind the scenes? As there have been some changes to the team we thought it  a good time to shine the spotlight on them!

We are very lucky to have a very capable and experienced crew led by the newly appointed Justine Vella as Team Leader and Matthew Rudge as Bush Regeneration Project Officer.

The team is currently working on a number of high conservation projects restoring the rare forests of the lower Blue Mountains and Blue Mountains Swamps in the upper mountains.

They are often called upon to support our Bushcare program and Council’s new organisational structure is providing more and more opportunity for them to work more closely with the Bushcare Team. We hope you’ll get to meet them in person on site one day soon!

 

A Good Recipe for a Happy Pollinator Garden

Food A pollinator habitat garden is more than just flower beds. By providing an assortment of plants, which flower throughout the year, you are providing a consistent food supply which will encourage pollinating insects and birds to stay, feed, drink, shelter and even reproduce. It is recommended that you plant swathes or large patches of flowers, rather than scattering them randomly through the garden. By planting flowering food-crops in large patches, you encourage specialist pollinators such as bees to forage within these patches, cross pollinating the plants as they move efficiently from flower to flower.

Shelter The next thing you need to do is provide potential shelter. You can include hollow logs, pieces of thick bark and crowds of rocks which will provide shelter and nesting substrate for a variety of pollinators. Resin bees, leafcutter bees and solitary wasps will nest in large drilled holes in wood, which mimic the natural cavities produced by wood-boring insects. Hollow or pithy stems can be collected and bundled up when plants are pruned. These will attract reed bees and masked bees as well as small solitary wasps and ants. By providing small cavities in rockeries or with layers of rolled bark, you will be providing shelter for ladybeetles, resin bees and other pollinators.

In Australia, gardeners are encouraged to mulch their plants, to maintain soil moisture. However, some of our pollinators, such as solitary bees and wasps, nest in the ground and find it hard to dig through the thick layers of mulch. So leave an area of bare ground, at least a metre squared, to encourage ground-nesting bees into your garden.

Water  is necessary for honey bees and birds so include a shallow bird bath, with a large rock in it to reduce the chances of insects drowning. A bowl filled with wet mud will provide minerals and water for some butterfly species and rocks provide insects with a warm place to bask.

Maintenance of your habitat garden is important if the plants and the pollinators are to thrive. Water deeply and regularly to ensure flowers produce plenty of nectar and pollen. Don’t use insecticides. If a plant is infested with many pests, it may need feeding, pruning or pulling out. A healthy garden will not only encourage pollinators, it will encourage wasps, shield bugs, spiders, dragonflies and other natural pest-predators. Keep the water and mud bowls topped up and place a seat out in the garden so you can sit, observe and enjoy your wonderful pollinator habitat garden.

by Megan Halcroft www.beesbusiness.com.au

 

Changes to Noxious Weeds Legislation: the new Biosecurity Act

From 1st July 2017 the NSW State Government has replaced the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 with the Biosecurity Act 2015. Under the Noxious Weeds Act all landowners had a responsibility to control noxious weeds on their property. Under the Biosecurity Act the same responsibility will apply and will be known as a General Biosecurity Duty.

General Biosecurity Duty

Under Part 3 of the Biosecurity Act 2015, landowners or land managers have a “General Biosecurity Duty” to prevent, eliminate or minimise the “Biosecurity Risk” posed or likely to be posed by priority weeds.

What is a Biosecurity Risk?

A biosecurity risk exists where priority weeds have the potential to negatively impact on agriculture, industry, the liveability of our city, human health or the environment.

The new name for invasive weeds

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 invasive weeds are known as “Biosecurity Matter” or “Priority Weeds”.

The Greater Sydney Local Land Services have created a list of State and Regional Priority Weeds with expected outcomes and recommended measures for each species. Council has also nominated Local Priority Weeds that are a problem within the Local Government Area and specified expected outcomes and control measures for these weeds.

For further information regarding your responsibility or the Biosecurity Act 2015, please go to: http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sustainableliving/weedmanagement/ or call 47805343.

Blue Mountains Bushcare Network Bioblitz and Conference

The Blue Mountains Bushcare Network proudly to presented their third Bushcare Network Conference on Saturday July 29. This year theme is Citizen Science so a Bioblitz seemed appropriate! The day focused on our beautiful and unique lower mountains vegetation communities. We were fortunate to be able to spend the day with experts to learn how to be “ears and eyes” on the ground. The data we collected will go into data bases for a wider audience.

Concurrent sessions occupied the morning. They included field-based citizen science activities at various locations around Springwood and two presentations at the Hub:

  • Hollows as Homes – Adrian Davis  University of Sydney
  • Bushcare website update/setup – Hugh Todd
  • Aquatic Wildlife – Jenny Hill & Fitzgeralds Creek Streamwatch Group Rosenthal Lane, Sun Valley
  • Birds of the Deanei – Carol Probets & Graham Turner, Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood
  • Monitoring the Fauna of Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment – Peter & Judy Smith, Valley Heights Creek, Sun Valley
  • Plants of Fairy Dell Reserve, Springwood Susan Jalaluddin & Helen Yoxall

The birds group, led by Carol Probets and Graham Turner, observing Bell Miners in the Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood.

We all reconvened at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood for lunch, informative and inspiring presentations from Margaret Baker and Jenny Hill, and hands on workshops including what to do with the data we collect.

The Hub presentations included:

Birds of Endangered Forests of the Lower Blue Mountains – Margaret Baker 

Margaret’s talk introduced the endangered eucalypt forests (Threatened Ecological Communities) that are found on clay soils of the Lower Blue Mountains from Springwood to Hawkesbury Heights and to Lapstone. She described each of the communities, identified the main trees and talked about some of the rare plants, but the focus was the diversity of birds to be found in each of the forest types, especially birds that are listed under NSW legislation as Threatened.

Citizen Science in Action –  what to do with your data” – Jenny Hill

Citizen science has emerged as a distinct field over the last 20 years and is now enjoying a boom. What are some successes? What are the factors critical to its success and what role does Bushcare, Landcare and Swampcare play in this success? How could citizen science grow to be part of the bigger story about restoration and protection in the Blue Mountains? This is brief overview of citizen science is an introduction to group presentations.

In her community volunteer role Jenny Hill is Coordinator with the Leura Falls Creek catchment working group, Bushcarer and Streamwatcher. Jenny has been involved in environmental education and learning for over 35 years and is currently Environmental Educator for Blue Mountains City Council. In this role she conducts citizen science and connects with nature programs across the mountains with schools and community groups. Jenny’s on-ground experience enriched her presentation and provided the bigger picture of citizen science in many different contexts.

Introduction to Biodiversity Atlases on the Internet – Margaret Baker 

This talk provided an introduction to the biodiversity atlases that are available on the Internet. It focused on the Atlas of Living Australia – where to find it, how to use it to determine biodiversity in a selected area and how to record data as an individual or as a Citizen Science group. It showed how the kind of data collected in the field sessions of today’s conference can be readily entered into the global exchange of biodiversity information. The world-wide and unrestricted access to such information can however be problematic and so some issues related to atlas and database use was also be discussed.