Port Augusta caltrop problem irritates local retiree

WEED: Retiree Jeff Baker with a handful of the Caltrop pest weed he's dug up at Lions Park.

WEED: Retiree Jeff Baker with a handful of the Caltrop pest weed he's dug up at Lions Park.

Caltrop can be a bugger of a weed at the best of times, and 72-year-old retiree Jeff Baker is fed up with how it’s managed at Lions Park.

For a few years Jeff has picked up 2-3 kilogram bags of Caltrop from the corner facing the Augusta Highway at Lions Park.

A former locomotive driver and farm hand, Jeff said he’s used his own time to do this, but has major concerns about what’s being done to manage it.

“I want to walk around my area of where I live without freedom from no prickles … You get on top of it, don’t let it get on top of you,” he said.

Jeff said his concerns are for local residents, children who use the park for sporting events, and tourists who may be unaware of caltrop’s prickles.

Primary Industries and Regions South Australia’s website states one caltrop plant can reportedly produce up to 4000 seeds.

This comes purely from my determination, if I hadn’t done what I’d done before, the whole bloody park would be full of it, it’d be everywhere

Port Augusta retiree Jeff Baker

Each seed is able to remain dormant in the soil for at least five years, making it difficult to control across the urban landscape.

Port Augusta City Council manages Lions Park and Jeff said he’s unhappy with the sight of mowers going over caltrop because he believes it helps spread the seeds.

Jeff said it should be monitored better and roots should be pulled up from the ground, before they can spread.

A higher than average summer rainfall has seen an explosion of caltrop across Port Augusta. 

Council has received numerous inquiries about control of the weed from concerned residents of Port Augusta. Acting Council CEO Lee Heron said the sheer number of plants that have germinated following the summer rains is far bigger to control than the resources Council has available.

“Council staff are responding where they can to outbreaks but the plant is nearly impossible to control at the moment,” she said.

“We encourage residents to remove any caltrop by the roots in their areas and place it in the green waste bin as this will help to prevent the spread of the weed and reduce the seed bank for coming years.”

Mrs Heron said council has also made its mowing contractor aware of the issue and has requested it be pulled up by the roots and disposed of when possible.

Council has placed information on its website about Caltrop at www.portaugusta.sa.gov.au/pests.