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Municipal Plant of the Month – Inkberry or Cestrum: Cestrum laevigatum, C. aurantiacum, C. elegans = C.purpureum (crimson/yellow/pink Cestrum).

An evergreen shrub or tree growing 1- 4 m high but reaching 15 m or more in the coastal regions. The leaves are lance-shaped, 150 mm long and 50 mm wide and release an unpleasant smell when crushed. This poisonous plant has lance-shaped leaves and small greenish-yellow, tube-shaped flowers, which appear from October to May. The fruit is a green, 10 mm long berry which turns purple-black.

Its invasive status is Category 1b invader and must be removed. It is a habitat transformer as it competes with indigenous plants. The entire plant is poisonous.

Impact: Great adapter and seed disperser (up to 350 000 per year). It produces numerous root suckers and sprouts vigorously from cut stumps and root fragments. Secretion from roots and bark can cause an allergic skin reaction.

Control: Cut down and treat cut stems with Kaput. Cutting without poisoning encourages coppicing. Carefully uproot young plants to ensure complete removal of rhizomes. Rot or dry out before throwing it on the compost heap. Follow-up regularly to guard against re-growth.

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