Queen of the Night found in Dunmore District

May 11, 2018

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Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (QMDC) staff have come across an out of the ordinary cactus when working with landholders and mapping weeds in the Dunmore District, west of Cecil Plains.

Many landholders have been surprised about finding the Night Blooming Cereus, also known as the Queen of the Night Cactus on their properties.

Millmerran Landcare Officer Rebecca Kirby says that the Night Blooming Cereus has been spotted in areas right across the district.

“After many recorded sightings, we have identified that this cereus has the potential to take over areas rapidly, just like the tree pear has in previous years,” she said.

“Together with the QMDC biodiversity and pest team, we have been working closely with Biosecurity Queensland to identify effective biocontrol options.”

Following further observation, Mrs Kirby noticed that a number of the cereus appeared to be dying and upon closer inspection she found that it was as a result of the Mealy Bug, which was originally released to support Harrisia Cactus management.

“I was very excited to discover that the mealy bug was naturally transferring to the cereus, as this is what we have been trying to achieve in recent trials,” said Mrs Kirby.

Department Officer Agriculture and Fisheries, Craig Hunter says the Night Blooming Cereus is a native to South America and can be identified by its tall columnar like appearance and stems that can reach up to 20 metres high.

“If you are an early to bed, early riser you can almost guarantee you have never seen the cereus in bloom, as large white flowers only appear at night,” he said.

“During the day red fruit forms in the flowers place and it is as large as an apple with many black seeds,” he added.

Mr Hunter further commented that the weed is primarily spread from gardens into the bush by birds dispersing the seeds.

“This cereus has the potential to invade all land types and is increasing in its abundance across Queensland, especially in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin,” he said.

“It can outcompete native species and make area of bush inaccessible to animals and stock if dense infestation is allowed to form.”

Mr Hunter says that control of this species in thick infestations should involve a number of methods; chemical, mechanical and biological.

“Now that we have confirmed the same mealy bug has infected the cereus, efforts are underway to distribute this to known infestation to help in its control.”

Do you think you have a Queen of the Night Cactus at your place? Get in touch with QMDC Regional Coordinator of Biodiversity and Pest Management Holly Hosie on 0428 738 559 or hollyh@qmdc.org.au

Released by: QMDC Technical Communications Officer, Tyhla Larkin

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127b Campbell Street (corner of Campbell and Bellevue)

PO Box 6243 Toowoomba West QLD 4350

P (07) 4637 6200 F (07) 4632 8062 E info@qmdc.org.au

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