MCMC congratulates Friends of Merri Creek for obtaining a $23,242 Community Grant from Port Phillip & Western Port Catchment Management Authority to control the highly invasive South African Weed Orchid (Disa bracteata). The grant will support Friends of Merri Creek’s fledgling Special Weed Orchid Terminator volunteers to continue their weed control work. Along with MCMC staff expertise, the Darebin Council's Green Army team’s enthusiasm, and the methodical surveys of volunteer Andrew Kuhlmann, SWOT systematically searched 80% of Ngarri-djarrang grassland in 2017, and removed over 1,500 Weed Orchids.
The South African Weed Orchid was first recorded in the Merri Creek valley in 2013. A dozen plants were promptly removed. Unfortunately this speedy removal wasn’t quick enough and the Weed Orchid has spread through nine hectares of state-significant grasslands at Ngarri-djarrang Grassland in Reservoir.
Each Weed Orchid flower can produce tens of thousands of tiny seeds which are easily spread on the wind, on vehicles, tools and clothing, threatening native grasslands around Melbourne. Its fleshy leaves and tubers compete with indigenous wildflowers like orchids, lilies and other herbs for prime space between the grass tussocks.
In 2018, the following actions are planned:
- expansion of MCMC’s regular ecological burn program at Ngarri-djarrang, to target Weed Orchid hotspots and make the search and removal effort more efficient
- thorough mapping of the extent of infestation and spread of the Weed Orchid, and
- development of an action plan to continue Weed Orchid control.