Swap your ginger for a native tree

A pest plant blitz has revealed many New Plymouth residents are unaware of the destructive ginger growing in their gardens.

Taranaki Regional Council has just completed an urban pest plant inspection, with the “nasty” Kahili ginger found to be widespread throughout the New Plymouth district.

As a result, it’s holding a free “Swap your ginger for a native tree” day with the support of New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), saving locals the time and cost of disposing of the weed.

Council environment officers carried out roadside inspections across New Plymouth, Oākura, Ōkato and Waitara in November, looking for the 11 plants in the Regional Pest Management Plan that landowners have an obligation to control.

Following this, about 250 letters were sent out letting landowners know there was a pest plant on their property, how to identify it and that they must control it.

Council Environment Services Manager Steve Ellis says the overwhelming majority were for Kahili ginger, with old man’s beard and giant gunnera also spotted.

He says ginger may be pretty to look at but it’s invasive and “nasty”. It clogs our waterways, threatening native fish and ecosystem health. It reproduces quickly and can quickly take over an area, shading out native species.

The main goal of the pest plant inspection was to educate and raise awareness, he says.

 “We found many people didn’t know what ginger or old man’s beard looked like, let alone the immense damage they do or that they have a legal obligation to control it.

“Our officers spent a lot of time advising those land owners, helping them identify their pest plants and the measures needed. Hopefully people are now more aware and are talking to their friends and neighbours about what’s in their gardens.”

The identified sites were re-inspected in February, with most owners having done the work required. The remaining 53 were issued a formal Notice of Direction, resulting in all but six doing the work. As a last resort, the Council will carry out the control at these landowners’ cost.

The Council has also worked with NPDC staff to identify infestations along walkways and on other NPDC-owned land. NPDC is working towards getting these under control, in accordance with its obligations.

Mr Ellis says controlling pest plants is crucial to Taranaki’s biodiversity and has to be a team effort.

“We’re asking people to check out the photos of the most common pest plants then take a look in their gardens. Talk to your neighbours – if you’ve got some chances are so do they, in which case it’s best to co-ordinate your control.

“If in doubt, give us a call on 0800 736 222 and one of our team will come out and take a look. If the weed is on NPDC land please contact them directly.”

“Swap your ginger for a native tree” between 10 and 2pm on Sunday, 23 May at the TSB Stadium carpark.

Bring along your Kahili or yellow ginger plants including the rhizomes (roots) and take home a native tree free –while stocks last.   

Trailers allowed, no commercial operators. 

For advice identifying and removing ginger and other weeds go to www.weedbusters.org.nz(external link).