Watch out for woolly nightshade
This capsicum-smelling South American invader has made itself right at home in the northern areas of New Zealand and is seeking to expand its territory further down the country wherever it can find a climate pocket that suits! It can grow to 10m tall, and has soft stems and large, velvety light green leaves that are whitish underneath, and is covered in a fine dust that can causes allergic reactions or rashes in some people. It has clusters of purple flowers which develop into large round berries.
Why is it wicked?
Woolly nightshade grows and matures rapidly, forming dense tall stands and producing many well-dispersed seeds most of year. It produces toxins that poison the soil around it, stopping other seedlings from establishing. It’s not fussy about conditions, tolerating wet and dry, salt, hot to cool temperatures, semi-shade, damage and grazing. Birds, especially native pigeon, spread the seeds.
What can you do?
Woolly nightshade seedlings can be pulled out by hand. Larger plants can be cut down and the stumps immediately painted with a suitable herbicide, or sprayed. For more information on control methods, have a look here.