Six million….. and counting

16 Jun 2021

That’s the number of Moth Plants that BDSC students may have prevented from growing around Auckland.

Eight groups of BDSC students entered the 2021 Moth Plant Pod Pulling Competition. Organised by the Howick Local Board of Auckland Council, the competition that has been running for several years, aims to reduce the number of these dreadful pest plants from increasing.

Moth Plant, originally from South America, is an invasive, noxious weed. Sadly, it is now widespread in Auckland. Moth Plant strangles other, wanted, vegetation and climbs fences and powerpoles. Plants produce pods that look similar to Chokos, but are poisonous. The attractive white flowers mean that many people do not realise that this invader is a pest. Each pod contains up to 700 seeds. When the pods burst, seeds are dispersed by the wind, floating across neighbourhoods before landing, germinating, putting down roots and, in time, strangling nearby vegetation.

Not only did the BDSC students cut short the life span of thousands of Moth Plant pods, they won the Secondary Schools section of the competition. Melanie Vaka (10J5) and Tracy Lau (12J11) teamed up, determined to more than triple the previous winning number of 2265 pods – also collected by BDSC students – in 2019. With a total of 8876 pods they not only achieved their goal, but were also more than 4000 pods ahead of the second placed team.

Britten students Alex Parker, Matthew Quot, Kevin Fu, Brian Tang, Hong Yu Lin and Saahil Patel entered as a team and were placed third. The other BDSC teams all contributed smaller numbers of pods and small vines to add to the significant total of Moth Plants destroyed by our students.

Thank you to the parents who provided significant support as our students scoured the suburbs to remove this pest plant.

Moth Plant pods can be disposed of in household rubbish bins. There are many locations around the local area as well as across the Auckland Region where Moth Plant can be found, as the map at the following site shows:

https://gicnz.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=0075566370a2448c914148760e1fd90c&fbclid=IwAR0w7tfvOZxdCqLq2yqbqx_R_ptU63n1MnyPs0kHE9hoMp9mpVVyy4gnmro

On the map, purple is “still to check this year”, red “seen and growing”, yellow “killed this year- check next year.

It’s not too late to get out with gloves, secateurs and a rubbish bag and wage war on this invader. Other weeds also need to be removed. See https://www.weedbusters.org.nz/   for more information.

~ Miss S Brodie, Enviroschools Liaison Teacher

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