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The eucalypts

Many species of eucalypts have been planted on Norf’k, mainly scattered through the residential portions, except that there are some healthy stands of eucalypts (planted for future timber supply) within what is now the National Park, in the Anson Bay locality:

Eucalyptus microcorys    – Tallowwood

Eucalyptus paniculata     – Grey Ironbark

Eucalyptus maculata       – Spotted Gum

Eucalyptus pilularis         – Blackbutt

Eucalyptus grandis         – Flooded Gum

Eucalyptus acmenoides  – White Mahogany

Eucalyptus cloeziana      – Gympie Messmate

Eucalyptus fibrosa          – Broad-leaved Red Ironbark

Eucalyptus botryoides    – Bangalay, Southern Mahogany.

There is evidence that eucalypts have self-seeded on a couple of private properties but they have not become a recognised pest on the Island, even though they have done so in other countries such as California. Part of the reason may well be that ants carry off most of the seed, as they do in Australia (as much as 99% of seed fall).

Posted in Introduced Flora |

Quarantine (pests and diseases) Survey 2012-14

In 2012-2014 the Department of Agriculture conducted a comprehensive survey of the plant and animal pests and diseases of the Island, coordinated by resident Glynn Maynard. The report is publicly available.

Supporting data

The data amassed during the survey have been published open access as appendices to the following paper:

Maynard, G V, B J Leschi and S F Malfroy. 2018. “Norfolk island quarantine survey 2012-2014 – a comprehensive assessment of an isolated subtropical island“. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales Vol. 140: 7-243.


Madeira Vine

Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia) is a South American invader with bright green fleshy leaves and tubers growing both underground and at nodes along the trailing stems. There are numerous patches within the Hundred Acres reserve. The first photo is of a new patch heading up the nearest tree.


Once established, manual control is a painstaking task that must be repeatedly frequently to remove freshly sprouted bulbils before their tendrils generate strings of new ones. Also, it is very easy to mistake the worthy native spinach Tetragonia for Madeira Vine. In the second photo, a spinach is peeking out from the Madeira vine near the stick.

The Great Formosan Lily Hunt


For several years the Flora and Fauna Society offered a reward for collection of stems of the introduced Formosan Lily. These lilies are a very invasive weed and in some places, infestations have totally precluded any native species from continuing to thrive in their native habitat. They will grow in sun and shade, in wet and dry conditions, and on flat land, slopes and steep cliffs.

Windy conditions are perfect for the ripened seed pods to disperse their thousands of seeds.

A number of parents have expressed concern at the number of lilies, making it easy for their little collectors to see the purpose and so to get great results. We hope this results in a better understanding as to why this problem needs to be tackled soon in a strategic manner across the Island. If we allow all the soil and water, sun and shade to be used by white lilies that don’t belong here, we are denying the natives the ability to survive in the only place they know, and belong.

Members understand that we are not removing the problem, but are simply reducing the size of the population, which has the potential to expand exponentially if left unchecked.

If we are to preserve the island’s all-important native plants we need to make sure they have some space to grow. Without the native plants, we could lose our native insects and our unique bird species and the wonderful experiences we all enjoy through being in our precious environment.


Corms of Formosan Lily


We have had fantastic results from our collectors in the three years 2017-2019. The project offered a bounty for Formosan Lilies collected in bundles of 50. Bounty 10c per stem + prizes of $100, $50 and $75 for the most stems collected.

In the summer season 2016-2017, a total of 257 bundles @ 50 stems bringing to a total of 12,850 plants were collected. With only a single flower per plant this has prevented the spreading of notionally at least 15,420,000 new plants. With some plants having been seen to have 12 flowers the potential increases to 805,040,000! Thanks so much to the collectors and their support teams for participating in this important project.

There was again a fantastic response in the 2018 Great Lily Hunt, resulting in the prevention of a possible 383+ million seeds germinating to make new plants. Due to the wet weather conditions at the time of the collection, some participants were also able to easily remove the bulbs along with the stems, making it a wonderful bonus number of possible future plants now not in the landscape.

In 2019 Society representatives, Liz Nobbs-Hewson and Bev Buffett presented certificates and cheques to students who participated in the Hunt. Total prize money was $4362.50, made up of a Community Grant from Norfolk Island Regional Council of $2500 with the balance of $1862.50 funded by Norfolk Island Flora & Fauna Society. Over 40,000 Formosan Lily plants were collected, preventing at least 86 million new plants being produced. Another fantastic effort!

In 2020 $5715 was paid in prizes. The Society thanks Norfolk Island Rotary and Foodlands for $2500 each in sponsorship.

Seeds of Formosan Lily

In 2021 the Society decided to review the project seek to have it mainstreamed into the official work program of the Council.

Porpieh (Strawberry Guava, Cherry Guava)

Raw ingredient of tasty jam and jelly on the Island, and free of the fruit fly that in Australia beats humans to the ripening fruit, it has another valuable use. The timber is durable and widely used for tool handles and garden stakes. Yet Norf’k could do without this pest. From small bushes to dense thickets where it grows tall and straight, it is ubiquitous on the Island.

African Boxthorn

African Boxthorn, Lycium ferocissimum, is a Weed of National Significance in mainland Australia. It’s a localised nuisance on Norfolk Island. Spines thick enough to penetrate car tyres can inflict painful puncture wounds in human flesh.

The photograph of Boxthorn covering slopes on the the Hundred Acres Reserve demonstrates both its ability to smother all desirable vegetation and also the need for very careful planning of control measures. Abrupt removal of the boxthorn would run the risk of irreversible soil erosion. However, boxthorn also tends to suppress the growth of grasses nearby and grasses are very good for protecting the surface of the soil from raindrop and wind erosion.



Phytophthora cinnamomi

Phytophthora is a group of microscopic soil-borne pathogens that can cause dieback and root rot in a range of different plants. Different species of Phytophthora can cause dieback and root rot in different plants. While most species of Phytophthora affect a limited number of plants, Phytophthora cinnamomi can affect a broad range of plant species.

Phytophthora are not visible to the human eye and don’t always cause symptoms. A plant may appear healthy for a long time and suddenly exhibit symptoms when conditions change, for example after an increase in humidity. This means that it can be challenging to know whether the pathogen is present or not.

There is debate in scientific circles as to the date of its arrival in Australia. The mainstream view is that the devastation caused to the jarrah forests in Western Australia and the heathlands along the east coast, particularly the grass-trees (Xanthorrhoea) and proteaceous species, points to a post-1788 introduction.

Is Phytophthora cinnamomi present on the Island?

Two snippets of evidence suggest “Yes”. A study in the 1970s reported finding the organism (Benson 1980), but the results cannot be confirmed.

A multidisciplinary plant health survey in 2012-14 covered introduced plants, invertebrate pests of plants and animals, plant pathogens, pests and diseases of bees and diseases and parasites of domestic animals. In total, 1747 species were recorded across all organism groups. Phytophthora cinnamomi was not specifically targeted, but a sample collected to test for another pathogen was found to contain Phytophthora, though it was not identified to species level at the time. The sample was re-examined in 2019 and identified as Phytophthora cinnamomi.

The two records were not considered to be sufficiently strong evidence on their own to make a determination on the status of this pest. For this reason, Australian Government scientists visited the Island in February/March 2021 to collect more samples.The survey team collected 67 samples and processed them on Island before sending to Sydney for diagnostics.

Plant pathologist Harshitsinh Vala germinates seed of lupin (very sensitive to P.c.) to aid in detection.

Scientists Elizabeth McCrudden and Sandy Perkins take soil samples.

The visiting scientists advised that “The success of this survey would not have been possible without the support and guidance from the Norfolk Island Biosecurity staff and the Norfolk Island community, who have allowed the team generous access to homes and properties to collect samples.”

Importation of aggregate

Importation of aggregate for the Norfolk Island Airport Pavement Repair and Resurfacing project raised some questions about the status of Phytophthora on the Island. It was decided to treat Norfolk Island as if it were free from P. cinnamomi when imposing conditions for the aggregate importation. This decision was made to afford the Island the highest level of biosecurity protection possible until more complete information could be obtained. The 2021 survey of samples collected on a grid across the Island is intended to fill the gaps in knowledge.


Posted in Introduced Flora |

Kentia Palm

Williams, Kevin. 2007. Seed to Elegance: Kentia Palms of Norfolk Island, South Pacific. Norfolk Island: Studio Monarch. Purchase via


The palms that are common around Norfolk Island are the Kentias, Howea belmoreana and Howea forsteriana, endemic to Lord Howe Island but not Norfolk, which has its own endemic palm Rhopalostylis baueri.

School teacher TB Wilson of Lord Howe Island deposited a quantity of Kentia Palm seeds at Norfolk Island in 1881. Palm seeds were exported from Lord Howe Island to England from about 1898 to meet demand from the greenhouse trade. The palm was found to flourish indoors and became a favourite houseplant of the European nobility and reportedly a particular favourite of Queen Victoria. Williams reports that in 1899 some 2 million seeds were auctioned in London.

From the early 1900s, supply was diversified to include Norfolk. Pitcairn descendant Ivens ‘Pullis’ Nobbs is credited with pioneering the Kentia industry, after his return from World War II.

Williams describes the Kentia as “the most common ornamental palm species in the world” because it requires little maintenance or light. Norfolk still supplies 90% or more of all Kentia products sold via the international flower auction house in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands.

Posted in Introduced Flora |