“No human will be able to walk through that paddock in 12 months time”

Threat: A close-up of the flowers on the Apple of Sodom weed.
Threat: A close-up of the flowers on the Apple of Sodom weed.

A weed declared noxious in areas outside Penrith is rapidly spreading across the region and action must be taken before it threatens the area’s national parks, according to a local councillor.

Cr Kevin Crameri said he was alarmed at the spread of the weed, Apple of Sodom (Solanum linnaeanum), at land around the Emu Plains Correctional Centre, and warned immediate action must be taken to prevent it spreading further.

“In the last six months it must have really taken over,” he told the November 27 council meeting. “It’s only a short flight for birds to go to the national parks, and it’s going to spread like wildfire through the national parks. It’s going to make it very hard to control or eradicate.

“If we don’t do anything, no human will be able to walk through that paddock [at the correctional centre] in 12 months time.”

Cr Crameri raised the issue in February of this year, moving that landowners who failed to control the spread of weeds such as Fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) and Apple of Sodom on their properties should lose their rural rates discount.

Landowners using their property for rural purposes such as grazing cattle or market gardening currently receive a 50 per cent discount on full rates under the rural rating system, and Cr Crameri believed the move could help contain the spread of weeds.

Fireweed is toxic to livestock and causes liver damage, while Apple of Sodom not only forms dense thickets that provide cover for feral animals, it also produces bitter and poisonous fruit.

Hawkesbury River County Council sprays class one noxious weeds for Penrith City Council, however Apple of Sodom has not been declared as a class one weed in the Penrith Local Government Area (LGA).

Cr Crameri wanted council to video and photograph the weeds and send the files to government representatives as high up as the prime minister as well as various state and federal agencies, and called for council to clean up its own land.

“This council has not gone out and taken these bushes off the roadside on their land,” he said.

Mayor John Thain suggested getting a memo from Hawkesbury River County Council outlining their view of the issue.