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Taiwan Cherry

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Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata) was first imported into New Zealand in the 1960s. Its pretty pink flowers and attractiveness to birds have made it a popular garden plant. The earliest known plantings in Nelson were around 30 years ago in the Dodson Valley area, and the plant has been spreading through the region since then.

It was officially given eradication status in 2019 in the Tasman-Nelson Regional Pest Management Plan, making it illegal to sell, propagate or distribute Taiwan cherry in the region.

Why is it a problem?

Taiwan cherry has become a major pest plant in Aotearoa New Zealand and could cause problems comparable with old man’s beard, gorse and blackberry if it is not brought under control.

It produces lots of seeds that are easily spread, establishing itself quickly, and dominating our ecosystems, crowding out native trees that would otherwise supply food and shelter for our fauna and insects.

Taiwan cherry plants establish easily in gaps in the forest and invade shrublands, roadsides, gardens and reserves. Unlike nearly all other woody weeds in the Nelson Tasman area, Taiwan cherry seedlings are very shade tolerant, and the long, thin seedlings are able to push up through overhead cover and quickly grow taller than native trees that may be trying to establish.

What does it look like and what should I do if I see it?

Taiwan cherry is a deciduous tree that grows up to 10m in height. Its leaves are 5-17cm long, staggered, serrated and thin. It has flowers with deep pink, bell-shaped clusters from late July to early September, and it has shiny, scarlet fruit (1cm in diameter) from October to December.

Council is asking for the support and cooperation of the local community to achieve the goal to eradicate Taiwan cherry from our region. We urge anyone who believes they have it growing on their property to get in touch to arrange for the tree/s to be assessed.

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Council is also keen to know of sites where Taiwan cherry occurred but have now been removed as seedlings may have spread to neighbouring properties and may occur years after a tree’s removal. Property owners in or around Taiwan cherry sites are asked to remain vigilant and identify and remove any seedlings they find.

We recommend replanting with native species such as kōwhai, rātā or tī kōuka (cabbage trees) to benefit the local bird and insect population.

How do I get rid of it?

Nelson City Council offers free removal of Taiwan cherry to Nelson residents. Please contact Nelmac directly on 0800 635 622, email us on nelson.nature@ncc.govt.nz or call 03 546 0200.

More information

For further information or control advice please contact nelson.nature@ncc.govt.nz or call 03 546 0200.