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Datasheet

Erechtites glomerata (fireweed)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 13 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Erechtites glomerata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • fireweed
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • E. glomerata is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Asteraceae that is native to Australia and New Zealand and has become naturalised in northwestern USA (in the states of Washington, Oregon and California). It...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.
TitleHabit
CaptionErechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.
HabitErechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.
TitleHabit
CaptionErechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.
HabitErechtites glomerata (fireweed); habit.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); flowers.
TitleFlowers
CaptionErechtites glomerata (fireweed); flowers.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); flowers.
FlowersErechtites glomerata (fireweed); flowers.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); close view of flowers.
TitleFlowers
CaptionErechtites glomerata (fireweed); close view of flowers.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); close view of flowers.
FlowersErechtites glomerata (fireweed); close view of flowers.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaflet.
TitleLeaflet
CaptionErechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaflet.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaflet.
LeafletErechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaflet.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaf base and stems.
TitleLeaf base and stems
CaptionErechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaf base and stems.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Erechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaf base and stems.
Leaf base and stemsErechtites glomerata (fireweed); leaf base and stems.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Erechtites glomerata (Desf. ex Poir.) DC.

Preferred Common Name

  • fireweed

Other Scientific Names

  • Erechtites arguta (A.Rich.) DC.
  • Erechtites arguta (A.Rich.) DC., orth. var.
  • Erechtites glomeratus (Desf. ex Poir.) DC.
  • Senecio argutus A. Rich
  • Senecio glomeratus Desf. ex Poir.

International Common Names

  • English: annual fireweed; Australasian fireweed; cluster-headed fireweed; cut leaf burnweed; cut leafed erechites; New Zealand fireweed

Summary of Invasiveness

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E. glomerata is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Asteraceae that is native to Australia and New Zealand and has become naturalised in northwestern USA (in the states of Washington, Oregon and California). It is considered a problem invader in the Channel Islands, California, USA. It is able to quickly colonise and dominate disturbed areas such as those cleared by logging activity or fire. Along with other non-natives, it is potentially threatening native species in California. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Erechtites
  •                                 Species: Erechtites glomerata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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There is some confusion surrounding the taxonomy of Erechtites glomerata, with some sources listing this as a non accepted name (ITIS, 2016), and others listing the spelling of the species name as glomerata (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016) and others as glomeratus (Flora of North America, 2016) (this is due to whether the source considers Erechtites as masculine (-us ending) or feminine (-a ending) (CABI, 2016). Therefore, Erechtites glomeratus is considered to be a synonym of Erechtites glomerata throughout this datasheet.

The genus Erechtites was reduced to Senecio in 1826 and subsequently reinstated (CABI, 2016). E. glomerata is still referred to as Senecio glomeratus in some resources (e.g., Atlas of Living Australia, 2016; Calflora, 2016). It is important to note that there are several invasive species belonging to the Senecio genus, including Senecio jacobaea.  

Description

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The following has been adapted from Wilken and Hannah (1998), Hoban and Hoshovsky (2000), Flora of North America (2016) and the Encyclopedia of Life (2016).

E. glomerata is an annual or perennial plant in the daisy family that is 10–200 cm tall and is grey to white-villous or -tomentose, often unevenly glabrescent. Stems are erect, and leaves are alternate and evenly distributed, with the proximal leaf withering before flowering.

Leaves are light grey-hairy, becoming smooth with weakly defined petioles on upper leaves. Leaf blades are oblong-ovate to lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate or lance-linear, and up to 15 cm long x 4 cm wide. Leaf margins are pinnatifid to pinnately lobed (lobes often sharply dentate) or dentate (distal leaves are bractlike).

The inflorescence is an array of cylindrical flower heads with flat ends. There are (20–)40–120 heads in loose, corymbiform arrays (sometimes arrays of clusters). Each head has numerous yellow disc florets at the top and no ray florets. Outer florets are pistillate and the inner florets are bisexual. Corollas are tubular, pale or dull yellow. Involucres are cylindric or turbinate and 5–8 mm.

Phyllaries are in 1–2 unequal series, oblong, glabrous, green with dark tips and there are usually 13. Receptacles 2–5(–6) mm diameter. Fruits are cylindrical, ribbed achenes (1–2 mm long) within a 5 mm pappus of fine capillary bristles. Deep taproot with branching lateral roots. Flowering occurs from summer to autumn. 

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Seed propagated

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GoaPresentZipcodeZoo, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentZipcodeZoo, 2014
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedWilken and Hannah, 1998; Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016Humboldt County, San Miguel Island, Santa Cruz Island, coastal counties from Humboldt to south Santa Barbara
-OregonPresentIntroducedWilken and Hannah, 1998; Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016Southern
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedFlora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016

Central America and Caribbean

Trinidad and TobagoPresentZipcodeZoo, 2014

Oceania

AustraliaPresentNativeWilken and Hannah, 1998; Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016
-New South WalesPresentZipcodeZoo, 2014; Atlas of Living Australia, 2016
-South AustraliaPresentNativeAtlas of Living Australia, 2016South
-TasmaniaPresentZipcodeZoo, 2014; Atlas of Living Australia, 2016
-VictoriaWidespreadNativeAtlas of Living Australia, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentZipcodeZoo, 2014; Atlas of Living Australia, 2016
New ZealandPresentNativeWilken and Hannah, 1998; Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000; Atlas of Living Australia, 2016; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeZipcodeZoo, 2014; Atlas of Living Australia, 2016

Habitat

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E. glomerata grows in waste places, grasslands, disturbed sites, forest margins, and pastures (Wilken and Hannah, 1998).

In North America, it is found in disturbed sites (especially roadsides, stream banks, pastures and areas that have been logged or burned), mostly coastal, at 0–500 m (Cal-IPC, 2016; Flora of North America, 2016). 

In Australia E. glomerata grows in temperate regions, in clearings or margins of sclerophyll forests, around inland marshes or along roadsides, in areas with more than 600 mm of rainfall (eFlora of South Australia, 2007).

Related species in the genuses Erechtites and Senecio are known to frequently become established in New Zealand but only E. atkinsoniae is recorded as being likely to spread extensively (Taylor, 1964). 

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Principal habitat
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Principal habitat
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Principal habitat
Natural grasslands Principal habitat
Riverbanks Principal habitat
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

E. glomerata has diploid number 2n=60 (Wilken and Hannah, 1998; Baldwin et al., 2012).

Reproductive Biology

The species reproduces sexually via seeds that are dispersed by the wind (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000).

Like other Asteraceae with a capillary pappus and small light seeds, E. glomerata probably has a relatively high level of dispersability (Wilken and Hannah, 1998). It is possible that seeds may remain viable in the soil for several years since this is the case with similar species (e.g., Erechtites hieraciifolia) (Cal-IPC, 2016). 

Each flower head has numerous yellow disc florets at the top and no ray florets (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016). Outer florets are pistillate and the inner florets are bisexual (Wilken and Hannah, 1998).

Physiology and Phenology

E. glomerata is an annual, although it can sometimes be perennial, persisting for longer than a year (Wilken and Hannah, 1998). 

It has a deep taproot with branching lateral roots, and flowers from summer through to autumn (in California, USA, it flowers from April to October) (Wilken and Hannah, 1998; Calflora, 2016). 

In Australia, flowering is from November to February (eFlora of South Australia, 2007).

Activity Patterns

Erechtites spp. can quickly dominate grasslands and fields and are serious plant pests in Channel Islands National Park, USA (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000). 

It exhibits moderate to rapid rates of infestation after fire, for example, in one year post-fire, it was observed to spread to cover 173 acres on San Miguel Island, USA (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000).

E. glomerata does not need disturbance to become established, and has been described as an early successional species (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000).

Population Size and Structure

One year after a fire on San Miguel Island, USA, E. glomerata was observed to spread to cover 173 (70 ha) acres with a maximum density of 3237 plants per acre (8800/ha) (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000). 

Associations

E. glomerata is facultatively mycotrophic and has shown levels of colonisation of roots by vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the range 0–30% (Halvorson and Koske, 1987). 

Environmental Requirements

It can rapidly colonise burned areas but does not need disturbance to become established, and has been described as an early successional species that is shade-intolerant (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000).

In Australia E. glomerata grows in temperate regions, in clearings or margins of sclerophyll forests, around inland marshes or along roadsides, in areas with more than 600 mm of rainfall (eFlora of South Australia, 2007).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
48 45

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall600mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Nyctemera annulata Herbivore Leaves

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The magpie moth (Nyctemera annulata) has been found to use E. glomerata as a larval food plant, and responds to defoliation by vegetative regeneration from root stock (Woodward, 1984). 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

E. glomerata produces small light seeds attached to a bristled pappus (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016) that enables the seed to be carried by the wind. It is therefore likely that this airborne seed has a relatively high level of dispersability (Wilken and Hannah, 1998).

It is possible that seeds may remain viable in the soil for several years since this is the case with similar species (e.g., Erechtites hieraciifolia) (Cal-IPC, 2016).

Accidental Introduction

It is possible that seeds can be spread by hikers and campers (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009).

Intentional Introduction

No records of deliberate introduction have been identified.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Hitchhiker Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Wind Yes Yes

Economic Impact

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Some costs may be associated with removal of the species manually. 

Environmental Impact

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E. glomerata is considered to be invasive in coastal woodlands and scrub vegetation of California (Wilken and Hannah, 1998). It is listed by the California IPC and NatureServe as moderately invasive and medium/insignificantly invasive, respectively (Olsen et al, 2015).

On the Channel Islands, USA it is reported to be a problematic invader and could be threatening native species such as Thysanocarpus conchuliferus (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Thysanocarpus conchuliferus (Santa Cruz Island fringepod)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009 Channel Islands, California, USA. Thought to be under moderate threat there

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Erechtites hieraciifolius [Erechtites hieraciifolia] (fireweed, American burnweed or pilewort) is native to eastern North America and has naturalised in Japan and New Zealand and has been introduced to Europe and western North America (Wilken and Hannah, 1998). PIER (2016) recognises the species as invasive in Hawaii and the Galapogos, China, Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand. The Flora of North America (2016) suggests that E. hieraciifolius has at least two varieties (Erechtites hieraciifolius var. hieraciifolius and Erechtites hieraciifolius var. megalocarpus) that are found in North America, West Indies, South America, New Zealand and Australia. It is distinguishable from E. glomerata in that it has 7–21 larger phyllaries (10-17 mm), a wider receptacle, and urn-shaped flower heads compared with the cylindrical flower heads of E. glomerata (Jepson, 1993).
 
Erechtites valerianifolia (native to central and South America) has naturalised in Japan and New Zealand and has been introduced to Australia (Wilken and Hannah, 1998). This species is recorded as invasive in many Pacific islands, as well as other countries including Japan, Taiwan and the Phillipines (PIER, 2016). Flowerheads are yellowish-purple/mauve to white (CABI, 2016), which distinguishes them from the yellow flowers of E. glomerata.
 
E. glomerata is similar to Erechtites minima [Erechtites minimus] (and can be distinguished due to differences in leaf shape (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000). E. glomerata has sharply and unevenly toothed lance-shaped leaves whereas the leaves of E. minima are finely dentate (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000). E. minima usually has 8 phyllaries compared with 13 in E. glomerata (Jepson, 1993).

Prevention and Control

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Public Awareness

Where E. glomerata is reported to be threatening native species such as Thysanocarpus conchuliferus, visitor education programs have been designed to reduce the spread of seeds by hikers and campers (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009).

Physical/Mechanical Control

E. glomerata is reported to be a problematic invader on the Channel Islands, USA, and could be threatening native species such as Thysanocarpus conchuliferus (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009). Conservation actions to date have included proposals to remove weeds such as E. glomerata, and manage the land for endangered plants (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009).

Manual methods of physical control have been used to remove E. glomerata on the Channel Islands National Park (Cal-IPC, 2016). When a similar species, E. minima, became dominant after fire in Point Reyes, USA, over 1.2 million plants were manually removed (Hoban and Hoshovsky, 2000). Physical control is associated with high economic costs, unless carried out by volunteers.  

Chemical Control

No specific information has been found on the biological or chemical control of E. glomerata, although other Erechtites spp. have been controlled using chemicals such as diuron, linuron, glyphosphate and triazine herbicides but not by chlorpropham (Taylor, 1964; Cal-IPC, 2016).

Monitoring and Surveillance

Monitoring the population of E. glomerata three times a year due to the large seedbank is recommended, although care should be taken when removing plants as disturbance could increase the infestation (Cal-IPC, 2016).

Ecosystem Restoration

It has been suggested that in disturbed areas (e.g., post logging or post fire), where E. glomerata has colonised and dominated, that given enough time (5-10 years), other plants naturally and gradually replace E. glomerata (Cal-IPC, 2016). Therefore, in these areas, intensive management and control of E. glomerata may not be necessary.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is little information about any pests or diseases of E. glomerata that could potentially be used as part of managing populations of this weed.

There is also little specific accurate information about E. glomerata seed germination, the persistence of seeds in the soil, and seed viability. Some sources suggest that seed can remain in high numbers in the soil and so manual clearance of plants can disturb this seed and potentially increase the problem.

More research into whether given enough time, disturbed areas that have been colonised by E. glomerata, naturally regenerate and so negate the need for intensive management control would be useful.

References

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Atlas of Living Australia, 2016. Atlas of Living Australia. http://www.ala.org.au

Baldwin BG, Goldman DH, Keil DJ, Patterson R, Rasatti TJ, Wilken DH, 2012. The Jepson manual: vascular plants of California. Berkeley, California, USA: University of California Press.

CABI, 2016. Erechtites valerianifolius (tropical burnweed). Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/114184

Calflora, 2016. Information on California plants for education, research, and conservation. Berkeley, California, USA: Calflora Database. http://www.calflora.org

Cal-IPC (California Invasive Plant Council), 2016. California Invasive Plants Council. Berkeley, California, USA: California Invasive Plant Council. http://www.cal-ipc.org/

eFlora of South Australia, 2007. Electronic Flora of South Australia. Queensland, Australia: Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Government of Australia. http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/

Encyclopedia of Life, 2016. Encyclopedia of Life. http://www.eol.org

Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016. Flora of North America North of Mexico. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=1

Halvorson WL, Koske RE, 1987. Mycorrhizae associated with an invasion of Erechtites glomerata (Asteraceae) on San Miguel Island, California. Madroño, 34(3):260-268.

Hoban G, Hoshovsky MC, 2000. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands [ed. by Bossard, C. C. \Randall, J. M. \Hoshovsky, M. C.]. California, USA: University of California Press, 179-182.

ITIS, 2016. Integrated Taxonomic Information System online database. http://www.itis.gov

Jepson WL, 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. California, USA: University of California Press, 1400 pp.

Olsen HE, Block G, Ransom CV, 2015. An Invasive Plant Inventory and Early Detection Prioritization Tool. Washington DC, USA: ECOS, US Fish and Wildlife Service.

TAYLOR RL, 1964. Common fireweeds. In: Proceedings 17th N.Z. Weed Pest Control Conf. 79-84.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009. In: Thysanocarpus conchuliferus (Santa Cruz Island Fringepod). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 18 pp.

USDA-NRCS, 2016. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Wilken D, Hannah L, 1998. Erechtites glomerata (Poir) DC. (Asteraceae) Australasian Fireweed, Factsheet 102601, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, for Channel Islands National Park, US National Park Service, USA. Arizona, USA: USGS Southwest Biological Science Center. http://sbsc.wr.usgs.gov/research/projects/swepic/factsheets/Erechtites_glomeratum.pdf

Woodward DR, 1984. Insect-plant interactions between magpie moth (Nyctemera annulata) and four species of Senecio. Masters Thesis. Canterbury, New Zealand: University of Canterbury, Department of Botany. http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/handle/10092/2589

ZipcodeZoo, 2014. ZipcodeZoo. ZipcodeZoo. http://www.zipcodezoo.com/

Contributors

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31/01/16 Original text by:

Vicki Cottrell, Consultant, UK 

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