African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum
) is a native of South Africa. It was introduced to Australia in the mid 1800s and was planted in botanical gardens, and as a hedge plant. It is now one of Australia’s most widespread weeds
, having been recorded in every state and territory in the country.
African boxthorn is a densely branched, perennial shrub with branches that end in sturdy thorns. It has small fleshy leaves and flowers that are coloured white to lilac. Its small fruit start with a smooth green appearance and ripen into an orange-red berry.
In Australia, African boxthorn is found in a broad range of climatic situations ranging from semi-arid inland areas to high rainfall coastal environments. Its fruit are consumed by animals such as birds and foxes
, and seed is spread in the landscape when excreted by animals.
African boxthorn displaces native vegetation, and in doing so reduces biodiversity values. However, in some situations, it can provide habitat for threatened species.
It provides impenetrable barriers to livestock and native fauna
, reducing access to pasture and water sources.
Effective control of African boxthorn requires the integration of a number of control methods – primarily chemical and physical means. Following up on initial control by managing the seed bank and any reshoot from roots is critical to long term control success.
Weeds of National Significance are declared based on their invasiveness, impacts, potential for spread and significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts. African boxthorn ticks all these boxes, and in 2012 has been declared a Weed of National Significance.
This Strategic Plan provides guidance for the first five years of implementing national coordination for African boxthorn. A challenge for national coordination of African boxthorn is the significantly differing priorities allocated to the species by different jurisdictions. In some states (such as Victoria), boxthorn is considered to be so widespread that priority is instead directed to less established weed species. In other states (such as South Australia) boxthorn is a high priority in some regions due to its significant potential to spread to un-infested landscapes.
Prevention of new weed infestations is far more cost effective than management of established infestations. This is reflected through actions under the first strategic goal in this strategic plan.
Where infestations have established
, the most strategically responsible way to direct resources is toward management where the weed poses threats to priority assets (natural, production, and heritage). This is reflected through actions under the second strategic goal in this strategic plan.
The third goal in this plan seeks to reinforce the capability and willingness of stakeholders to effectively and efficiently implement the first two goals.
The successful achievement of strategic plan objectives relies on the development and maintenance of partnerships between community, industry and government and recognition of the roles of each. These roles are detailed in tables within the plan.
Implementation of the plan through national coordination will be monitored using the Australian Government’s Monitoring
, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) system. Coordinators create work plans guided by a MERI plan, and report to the Australian Government against the plan.