An Emerging Invasive Species Clusia rosea
IN JULY 2019, Coolum and North Shore Coast Care (CaNSCC) was informed by a Local Government Environmental Officer, of the discovery of a potentially invasive species, Clusia rosea (also known as the autograph tree). It is an exotic species that has been grown in Australia for many years as an ornamental plant.
The Weed Spotters Network Queensland aims to find, identify and document new occurrences of potential weeds at an early stage so that preventative actions can be taken. Alexander (Sandy) Pollock, Senior Ecologist, Weed Spotters Network Queensland Coordinator, recently wrote about recent records of “Clusia rosea becoming naturalised in about three to four locations in the Coolum district of the Sunshine Coast”. This is of concern, as the species is a known weed in parts of Hawaii, Sri Lanka and the Pacific Islands. It is a small, crooked-trunked tree reaching about eight metres tall, with very large and conspicuous dark glossy green, paddle-shaped leaves. When broken, stems and leaves exude a copious yellow sap, that hardens into a resin-like substance, that is mildly toxic.
The initial sighting by a CaNSCC member was on Mt Coolum in the National Park, growing on a rock face. This was reported to the local Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), who then removed four plants. Subsequently, in November 2019, some of the CaNSCC group joined with QPWS staff to weed around the base of Mt Coolum (near the car park). Some more mature plants were found and removed. Sometime later, the Local Government Environmental Officer reported several large mature plants on North Shore Road, Mudjimba. This was reported to Sunshine Coast Council, and these plants were removed.
In April this year, QPWS personnel removed two plants from the roadside vegetation on Tanah St West and a further fourteen plants from the nearby resort.
It is suggested that residents around the base of Mount Coolum check their own properties for this potentially invasive plant and either remove it or report it to your local Council or to the QPWS if found in a National Park.