A WEED that looks like a daisy but can kill cattle and horses has been found at Lavington.
The fireweed, a native of south-eastern Africa, was found growing near the BP roadhouse on the corner of the old Hume Highway and Thurgoona Drive last Friday.
Albury Council’s noxious weeds officer Jan Mitchell noticed its bright yellow flowers and realised it was fire- weed. She had tackled an infestation of the weed on the Hume Highway near Tarcutta last month.
The council’s vege-tation management officer, Steve Onley, said alkaloids in fire- weed could kill animals.
“Alkaloids in its stem, can cause liver damage, especially to horses and cattle,” Mr Onley said.
He said the plant, which was first seen in Albury four years ago, had a reputation for spreading rapidly.
“If it grows next to heavily grazed land, it will quickly colonise,” he said.
“It can produce up to 18,000 seeds during a life cycle of three to four years.”
Mr Onley said he suspected a truck had carried contaminated mulch from the Tarcutta infestation of 200 fireweed plants to Lavington.
He said the attractive yellow flowers, which can be identified by 13 petals, could fool people because they looked so harmless.
“It looks pretty, like something you might see in a cottage garden,” he said.
“It looks quite innocent but it’s not.
“Once it takes over it’s really hard to eradicate.
“That’s why it’s important to get on top of incursions early.”
Mr Onley said fire- weed had become widespread in coastal areas of northern NSW but had yet to be declared a noxious weed in the Albury Council area.
He said there were moves to have it recognised as a noxious weed by later this year.
As well as harming horses and cattle — but not sheep or goats — fireweed can hinder pasture production.
Residents who suspect they have found fireweed can phone the council on (02) 6023 8111.