Bitou Bush

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Distribution Map
Bitou Bush.

Dominant over 80% (900km) of the NSW coastline, this invasive species is now rated the worst plant pest in Australia, and now smothers over 100 native plant species and threatens the habitat of birds, mammals, and insects.

Dense stands of bitou form a monoculture where no other plants will grow.

Find out more about the bitou bush below.

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Untouched bitou thicket
Bitou History.

Bitou bush first found its way to Australia in 1908, dumped as ballast from ships on the banks of the Hunter River in New South Wales (NSW).

The species was then recognised as an effective coloniser and deliberately planted for soil and dune stabilisation from 1946-68 along the coast by the Soil Conservation Service of NSW (!). It was declared a weed of national significance in 2000.

Here we see an example of an area completely taken over by bitou - SWR Main Beach prior to initial spray-out in 2005.

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Bitou Flowers
Bitou Facts:

Botanical Species "Chrysanthemoides monilifera".

Able to establish on poor salty soils, this daisy-like shrub grows from 1-2 meters up to 10 meters high. It flowers mainly during April-June - but will flower anytime after unseasonal rains. Each bush can generate up to 50,000 seeds per year, or up to 5,000 seeds per square meter under the plant, and seeds can remain viable for up to ten years. Also, because of its shallow root system, bitou can steal moisture from deeper-rooted natives.

This means that after initial clearance, follow-up eradication may be needed for several years.

After a fire, the seeds germinate and re-colonise readily. The plant can flower and set seed within 12-18 months. Once germinated the seeds grow quickly and form a dense growth that shades out and displaces native species.

The result is a monoculture with no biodiversity. Altogether a tenacious and horrible plant.