Thinking Outside the Box to Blitz Boxthorn

Over the past month, our Coastal team have been delivering boxthorn control workshops in collaboration with the City of Greater Geraldton!

The Batavia Coast Maritime Institute TAFE students and high school students, were able to get out of the classroom and spend time in the sunny Chapman River Regional Park, learning how to safely eradicate the thorny weed, Lycium ferrocissimum.

Endemic to southern Africa, boxthorn was introduced into Australia in 1858 in Adelaide and was spread from the mid-1880s as a hedge plant and windbreak. This pesky weed is found throughout Australia and it is still spreading. Around Geraldton it occurs from south of Dongara to Hutt River, the Abrolhos Islands, moving along the coast and inland along rivers.

In 2012 it was officially endorsed by the Australian Weed Committee as a WoNS (Weed of National Significance) in Australia due to its environmental impacts, legally recognised as a noxious weed in every state except WA. It is recognised as both an environmental and agricultural weed whose thickets take over native vegetation and degrade fauna habitats. It harbours pests like rabbits and foxes and as it normally grows under trees, reduces access for shade and water for livestock. Its fruit can attract fruit flies and produce over 70 seeds which stay viable for three years, and can be spread from traces of seeds found in animal droppings.

Controlling boxthorn is a lengthy and rigorous process. Foliar spray can be of use, however unsprayed leaves can regrow. Physical removal can be tedious,cause injury, and is not that effective as Boxthorn can regrow from roots left in the ground. The herbicide, Vigilant, seems to be the most effective method and works best when applied within 10 seconds of cutting the trunk. Juvenile plants do not flower or fruit until it is at least two years old, which offers a window of opportunity to contain the bush before the very resilient seeds come into play.

Safety needs to be a priority when removing boxthorn.Appropriate PPE includes long sleeves and pants, gloves, sturdy shoes and sun protection. Vigilant is a non-toxic product, however any skin contact should be rinsed immediately. Boxthorn bushes are notorious for their sharp spikes and can cause abrasions, which is why long clothing is always best. Bushes that are within 50 metres of a waterway should not be chemically treated, as this poses a risk to any fauna that rely on the water source.

If you’d like to join us in blitzing boxthorn, visit our events page at for information on our upcoming workshops in Cape Burney and Spalding Park. Contact the City of Greater Grealdton if you have any questions, and to register for an event.

These events are supported by NACC NRM and made possible by the City of Greater Geraldton.

Tegan Knowles – Coastcare Support Officer

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Well done Teagan & team on highlighting local actions on Box Thorn eradication. It’s such a challenge. I know from personal experience. I had my firebreaks cleared last Spring. Box Thorn & many other weeds that love soil disturbance have taken the clearing & Summer rains as a signal to go rampant. My daily practice now is to wake up as early as is humanly possible in cold weather & ‘walk the line’ pulling up baby BoxThorn before they get their tap root too established. Also fill up the wheelbarrow with pig melons that also capitalised on the weather & clearing THEN to cap it all off, try & control the Dongara Daisy. Life is never easy on the land & caring for country takes time & energy. I’m wishing my old bones were a lot younger THAT IS FOR SURE. The only thing I really have going for me is sheer will & determination to win the firebreak challenge. THEN…if I succeed I have Fountain Grass as my next mortal enemy. I think I can, I think I can…lol.

Hi I appreciate your efforts on controlling boxthorn. I feel these methods you talk about are really only useful in small patches not a landscape scale effort.
This weed has spread too far into the landscape to be economically removed and requires years of follow up. Then there are landholders who just aren’t doing anything.
I feel we need a BIOLOGICAL CONTROL.
We need funds to get a PhD student to get onto it. I think you will find it has spread far wider than even you realise.

Kind regards Wayne Boys

This is a continues problem weed, several years ago the Greenough LCDC group spent time endeavoring to control in the Greenough River & surrounding areas.

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