Weed toxic to livestock

Countryman

South coast farmers are urged to look out for a weed which poses a risk to barley crops and is toxic to livestock.

The Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) has been found on a property near Ravensthorpe.

Department of Agriculture and Food senior research officer John Moore said the weed was an alternate host for the barley leaf rust fungus which can cause significant crop losses in barley. It can also be toxic to livestock.

"The weed, which had spread over a four hectare area of paddock, was identified by a botanist conducting a plant survey in the area for Main Roads," Mr Moore said.

"Main Roads has offered to work with the department to eradicate the weed from the area."

Star of Bethlehem has star-shaped flower with six petals that are white on the front with a distinctive green stripe on the back.

It has been prohibited entry into WA since 1998 because it is an alternate host for barley leaf rust.

"It has attractive white flowers and is very hardy so it is highly likely the weed was previously brought into WA as a garden plant," Mr Moore said. "DAFWA is asking the public to be alert for this plant, and particularly for gardeners to report any suspect plants to the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881."

Star of Bethlehem flower, showing the green stripe on the back of the petals. Picture: Paul Busselen

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