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How to spot the difference between pesty pampas and native toetoe

How to spot the difference between pesty pampas and native toetoe

They may look pretty, but the invasive weed pampas is often mistaken for the native toetoe.

Seven Sharp presenter Jeremy Wells got a lesson on the difference between the two after a case of mistaken identity on Thursday night.

So how do you tell the tall grasses apart?

University of Auckland associate professor of ecology, Margaret Stanley, told Seven Sharp the pesty pampas form in “really dense clumps” which “fills up all this space and out competes all of the other plants”.

“They’re just up and down, taking over and replacing all the native plants,” she said.

Stanley said people can tell them apart by how they’re standing, with the “elegant” toetoe appearing as a “maiden with flowing hair” compared to the more upright pampas.

Stanley said while the plants typically flower at different times, weeds “don’t often do the things we want them to and flowering times are changing under climate change”.

“Sometimes, it’s actually really hard to predict now what’s happening with flowering.”

Despite being a “nationally banned weed plant” which are “at the top of the nasty list”, pampas are a common sight in weddings.

“You’re not allowed to move it around and you’re not allowed to display it so no photos, no florist shops, no Instagram,” she warned.

READ MORE: Pampas grass home and wedding d├ęcor trend turning into biosecurity nightmare

She instead urged Kiwis doing wedding planning to “give our native plants a bit more PR and a bit of appreciation”.

Anyone who spots small pampas seedlings have been advised to pull them out, but larger plants may be trickier to deal with.

“If it’s really big and you’re struggling to think at the moment, just remove that seed head so all those seeds aren’t flying around and spreading even more so preventing spread while you try and think how you’re going to get some advice on how you can remove it and hopefully, replant it with some native species.”

Advice on how to remove pampas plants can be found on your local council’s website.

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