Spanish Heath Control Guide

Do's and Don'ts of Spanish heath control

Spanish heath flowering plant, photo: Tim RudmanPrint PDF image

Do's

  • Dispose of removed material carefully to avoid regeneration: burn if possible, otherwise pile where the plants won't stem layer;
  • Follow-up your initial control attempt: follow-up is essential to eradicate Spanish heath.

Don'ts

  • Don't slash flowering plants - this will spread the seed;
  • Don't rely on slashing to eradicate Spanish heath - slashing can worsen an infestation;
  • Don't rely on burning to eradicate Spanish heath - burning will worsen an infestation;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at control: follow-up is essential to eradicate Spanish heath.

Spread of Spanish heath

  • Spanish heath reproduces by seed and stem layering. Seed is dispersed by wind and water, by slashing, and in soil and mud.
  • Layering occurs where stems contact moist soil and send down roots. Spanish heath is also capable of shooting from broken stems and roots.
  • See the Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control for detailed information on how to wash-down equipment and personnel to reduce the chance of spreading Spanish heath.

Physical removal

  • Seedlings or small plants can be hand-pulled or dug out, taking care to remove as much of the root system as possible.
  • The material should be disposed of safely, either by burning where appropriate, or piling plants where they cannot layer.
  • If plants are in flower, care should be taken to prevent accidental seed dispersal during disposal.
  • Large plants can have very extensive root systems, and digging out or mechanical removal may result in soil erosion. Alternative control options should be considered.
  • Slashing can reduce the amount of seed produced if undertaken prior to flowering, but will not kill plants. Slashing can result in more root development and low growth, making later control more difficult.
  • Slashing during or soon after flowering will spread seeds and should not be undertaken.

Weed matting

  • Weed matting can kill Spanish heath and can achieve a 100% kill after 45 weeks.

Cultivation

  • Cultivation can be used to control Spanish heath in infested pasture.
  • Cultivation must be undertaken regularly until the plants are no longer re-sprouting from root fragments. The establishment of competitive pasture species will help reduce Spanish heath regeneration.
  • Single or infrequent cultivation will make the problem worse, and require follow up control of regrowth and seedlings.

Revegetation

  • Spanish heath is not susceptible to shading, so the establishment of competition is not an effective means of control.
  • However, where Spanish heath has been removed, re-establishing native vegetation or pasture species can reduce seed germination.
  • Re-establishing native vegetation is also useful in stabilising soil and reducing erosion.

Soil improvement

  • Spanish heath prefers acid soils. Applying lime to infested pasture can reduce regeneration of Spanish heath, but will not eradicate the weed by itself.
  • Lime can harm native plants and is not suitable for the control of Spanish heath in native vegetation including native grasslands.

Burning

  • Spanish heath is well adapted to fire and is not killed by burning. Burning is likely to make an infestation worse.

Grazing

  • Grazing by sheep can provide some control in moderately infested pastures. Sheep prefer the softer growing tips which reduces of flower production.
  • However grazing alone will not eradicate an infestation.

Chemical control


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