Current projects: the trouble with willows

A focus on willows

shows willows in reservoir, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Willow leaves are turning yellow-orange at this time of year

Willows are one of the items on the weed list for the volunteers in the Reserve.

It’s the perfect time of year to remove them because we can walk out to the plants without getting wet. The summer has been long and hot, with little moisture, so the water level in the reservoir has dropped.

Willows in the Reserve

Salix discolour and other species of willow have been identified in the Reserve in the past. Below is one of the most common varieties here – the Rusty Willow (known as Salix Atrocinerea or Salix Cinerea subsp. Oleifera). This is a shrub willow and a variety of Salix Cinerea or Grey Willow. These spread primarily by seed and we seem to have both male and female plants.

Shows example of willow around and in reservoir, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

An example of one of the willows – Rusty Willow – around and in the reservoir

The Willows National Management Guide (DP, 2007) indicates the degree of risk associated with seeding willows and with Grey Willow, in particular. We have clumps located along the water course into the reservoir and some of them are quite inaccessible as they are out in the reeds in the reservoir itself.

A couple of pages illustrate the problem with willows quite colourfully:

Shows extract from Willows National Management Guide, page 8

Page 8 of the Willows National Management Guide

Shows extract from Willows National Management Guide, page 9

Page 9 from Willows National Management Guide

Willow removal

Local Bill Lay has worked on the project to remove willows high up in the Baw Baw National Park, getting into some of the most inhospitable places by helicopter and camping in the bush until retrieval for the next section of willows. Fortunately, a helicopter ride in wasn’t needed here in Moe. The Reserve is very accessible for people – unfortunately, the willows in the middle of the reservoir are going to take some thought.

With Bill’s aid, we learned to cut-and-paste both ends of the willow branches we removed. He explained this was important to ensure the discarded branches didn’t re-establish.

Willows cut back

Willows cut back

Important to ensure poison gets into the base

Important to ensure poison gets into the base

 Before

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Gumboots needed for this one and waders for the ones further out

Shows willows, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Some were easy to get at

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Some were a little harder

 After

Shows after image of willow cutting, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

After removal of willow on bank

Shows after image of willow cutting, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

AFTER willow removal

We wore gumboots to tackle some of the willows located out among the reeds – we’ll need to don waders like Bill to get to the remaining willows because there are a few still to go.

Shows willow among reeds, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Some willows still to do – out in the water and reeds

 Next steps

We will be continuing to remove the willows, with appropriate follow-up to ensure the removal has been successful. It’s a good time of year to do this not just becuse of the low water levels but because it will be before seed is set in September/ October.

We’ll be removing adult plants and one of the challenges will be to identify and remove seedlings from the previous seasons.

Further information

There are some great resources about willows and their management at the Weeds Australia website – see http://www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/willows/

 

 

 

 

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