Sharp Rush. Ever heard of it? Believe me – you do not want to come across this weed.
Sharp Rush (Juncus acutus) poses a serious biodiversity threat to wetlands and estuaries from Geraldton all the way down to Esperance. Once established it can displace native vegetation and render large areas impenetrable to animals and people. It is closely related to, and often confused with, a number of native rush species. In addition, it is notoriously difficult to eradicate.
In February 2020, a sharp rush weed infestation was observed and recorded within a wetland area adjacent to a bicycle path north of the Hill River estuary. The infestation consisted of up to a dozen mature plants which had mature seed heads. Each seed head can hold up to 200 seeds and each plant can produce up to 4000 seeds! These seeds are highly viable with rates of germination between 75 and 95%.
Dave Pongracz and Steven Buitenhuis of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions (DBCA) discovered the infestation at Hill River and in partnership with NACC NRM and the Shire of Dandaragan, were able to take the project on straight away.
Last month the Shire of Dandaragan called in the help of the Jurien Bay Regional Herbarium Group to visit the Hill River site and together did their best to stop the spreading of the plants. Unfortunately the team found that the infestation had spread with more new sites identified.
Several infestation sites were treated and the seed heads removed, however this site will need ongoing monitoring to ensure the infestation remains contained. The Shire of Dandaragan are now expanding the project with a long term plan to eradicate Sharp Rush from the Hill River.
NACC NRM Coastcare Officer Tegan Knowles says she is very grateful to DBCA, the Shire of Dandaragan and the dedicated volunteers at the Jurien Bay Regional Herbarium Group who together made the project possible.
“This may just be the beginning of eradicating Sharp Rush from the Hill River but with these positive partnerships, the future looks bright and sharp rush – free,” said Mrs Knowles.
For more information on NACC NRM’s Coastcare Program, visit nacc.com.au