Taiwan Cherry

taiwan cherry 1

Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata) was first imported into New Zealand in the 1960’s and is now widely naturalised in northern NZ. The earliest known plantings in Nelson were around 30 years ago in the Dodson Valley area and the plant has been spreading since that time. Its pretty flowers and attractiveness to birds has made it a popular garden plant.

Because it produces lots of seed which are easily spread and grows in shady places in the bush and quickly dominates and destroys our native ecosystems, it has become a major pest in parts of New Zealand. If it is not stopped now, it will be only a matter of time before it becomes a huge problem in the Nelson and Tasman regions, overtaking gardens, shrubberies, reserves and regenerating native forest.

Nelson City Council is taking the approach that time and effort spent now to reduce and potentially eradicate this plant from Nelson will save labour and money in the future, especially if the plant continues to spread at the current rate.

The Tasman-Nelson Regional Pest Management Plan 2019-29 seeks to eradicate this tree over the life of the Plan, and it is now illegal to sell, propagate or distribute Taiwan cherry in both Nelson and Tasman regions.

It is important that Council is notified of sites where Taiwan cherry is or has been planted in the past, as seedlings may have spread from these locations to neighbouring properties.

What does it look like?

taiwan cherry 2

Taiwan cherry is a deciduous tree that grows up to 10m high. Its leaves are 5-17cm long, alternate, serrated, and thin. The flowers are deep pink, in bell-shaped clusters from late July – early September and it has shiny scarlet fruit 1cm across from October to December.

Why is it a problem?

Flowers are visited by tui and bell birds. The fruit size suggests blackbirds will be the main distributors of seeds but some of the smaller fruit will also be available to wax eyes. Native pigeons are also likely to spread it but this has not been observed in Nelson.

Possums may spread the seed too, but this would be very minor.

The plant invades all types of shrublands, light gaps in the forest, roadsides, gardens and reserves. It has the potential to spread and dominate over native vegetation displacing it completely and negatively impacting on entire naturally occurring ecosystems. Taiwan Cherry could cause problems comparable to Old man’s beard if it is not brought under control quickly.

Unlike nearly all other woody weeds in the Nelson area, Taiwan cherry seedlings are very shade tolerant and with its characteristic single leader growth form, it is able to push up through over-head cover.

How do I get rid of it?

Larger trees can be removed by Nelmac staff at no cost to you. Contact Nelmac directly on 546 0910.

  • Pull out any young seedlings (note seedlings are deep-rooted and cannot be pulled out after just one year’s growth)
  • Cut the tree down and paste the stem with a 50/50 glyphosate (eg Roundup) and water mixture, or with Vigilant® gel, immediately after cutting; or
  • Drill 12-14mm holes at 200mm intervals around the trunk and fill with10-15mls of undiluted glyphosate; or
  • Spray (during summer) with 5g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg e.g. Escort®) per 10 litres water or 60ml Brushkiller per 10 litres water.

Control methods for pest trees and shrubs

  • There are a range of methods available to control pest plants. The following recommendations – which are only a sample of those available – are based on safe-use methods that have proven effective.
  • Physical removal of the plant and all fragments to a land fill is the best organic method.
  • Slashing, mowing or otherwise removing plant material and then treating the stumps or regrowth reduces the amount of chemicals needed.
  • Always apply chemical to the cut stump immediately after cutting.
  • Spray is recommended for large areas.
  • Penetrant aids the uptake of herbicides – there is a range available, e.g. Pulse®, Boost®, Freeway, Dewdrop, and Kiwi Buddy Uptake crop oil.
  • Follow-up is always recommended until all the seed has gone from the soil.

Control methods for pest trees and shrubs

There are a range of methods available to control pest plants. The following recommendations – which are only a sample of those available – are based on safe-use methods that have proven effective.

  • Physical removal of the plant and all fragments to a land fill is the best organic method.
  • Slashing, mowing or otherwise removing plant material and then treating the stumps or regrowth reduces the amount of chemicals needed.
  • Always apply chemical to the cut stump immediately after cutting.
  • Spray is recommended for large areas.
  • Penetrant aids the uptake of herbicides – there is a range available, e.g. Pulse®, Boost®, Freeway, Dewdrop, and Kiwi Buddy Uptake crop oil.
  • Follow-up is always recommended until all the seed has gone from the soil.

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY and follow all instructions and safety requirements.

More information

For further information or control advice please contact Richard Frizzell, 546 0423 or email richard.frizzell@ncc.govt.nz.