Farmers in the Wimmera region are urged to be vigilant for noxious weeds including cape tulip (one-leaf), Moraea flaccida and cape tulip (two-leaf), Moraea miniata.
Cape tulips are toxic to humans and livestock, therefore control of the weeds is a priority. Every part of both species is poisonous to grazing animals and in severe cases poisoning can lead to paralysis and death.
Even dry material from cape tulips can cause poisoning to stock and can be a problem if included in hay and fed to animals.
Agriculture Victoria Leading Biosecurity Officer Michael Moerkerk said the identification of cape tulip species can be challenging but is made easier when flowering.
“The plants typically flower from September to October so now is the time for farmers to identify if their property is infected with either species,” Mr Moerkerk said.
The flowers of both species look similar with six pink-salmon coloured petal-like segments with a yellow centre.
Stems are usually zig-zagged in appearance and grow to 75 cm high. Both species have long strap-like leaves and as the name implies, cape tulip (one-leaf) has only one leaf per plant, whereas cape tulip (two-leaf) has two to three leaves per plant.
Mr Moerkerk said there are two control methods to remove cape tulip from an infected area: the application of a registered herbicide, or the physical removal of the entire plant, including the roots (and corms), from the soil.
“To control the spread of cape tulip early identification and management before the plants become established and set seed in an area is critical. The best results will be achieved where landowners work together to control infestations in an area,” Mr Moerkerk said.
The plants are perennial species, but all material growing above ground will dieback in summer and the plants will persist via corms (bulb-like structures) below the ground. Plants can produce up to 1,200 seeds per plant and 7,000 corms per square metre.
Cape tulip (one leaf) is a declared Regionally Controlled Weed in the Wimmera Catchment under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 and all landowners have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent the growth and spread of cape tulip on their land.
Cape tulip (two leaf) is not as widely distributed throughout the Wimmera Catchment and is declared as a Regionally Prohibited Weed. All landowners must take all reasonable steps to eradicate the species on their land.
Further information on cape tulips can be found on our website: agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds/priority-weeds, or call 136 186. If you suspect livestock have cape tulip poisoning call your private veterinarian or contact Agriculture Victoria and ask to speak to a district veterinary officer or animal health officer in your region.
Source: Agriculture Victoria