Bitou bush

Bitou bush is a major threat to NSW coastal ecosystems and coastal biodiversity.

What are bitou bush and boneseed?

Bitou bush     (subsp. rotundata) and boneseed (subsp. monilifera) are two subspecies of Chrysanthemoides monilifera.

Bitou bush is native to South Africa and is thought to have been introduced to Australia in ship ballast but was subsequently used to stabilise sand dunes. After being planted along the NSW coast between 1946 and 1968 it spread rapidly and is now found along 46% of the NSW coastline. The north coast is particularly heavily infested. In some cases, the weed has spread 10 kilometres inland.

Boneseed, a species closely related to bitou bush, is also native to South Africa and classified as a weed in NSW. However, it is only established in a small number of areas, including Sydney and the Hunter regions.

Why are bitou bush and boneseed a problem?

Bitou bush invades native coastal heathlands, grasslands, woodlands and forests. It grows quickly and forms dense stands, replacing native plants and destroying the habitat of native animals. Infestations can smother sand dune, headland and coastal vegetation communities. Many threatened species and plant communities have been affected.

The NSW Scientific Committee has listed the Invasion of native plant communities by Bitou bush and boneseed as a key threatening process impacting both native plants and animals.

Managing bitou bush and boneseed

Strategy and planning

The management of bitou bush and boneseed in our national parks is guided by the:
  • Bitou bush and boneseed threat abatement plan
    A Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) has been prepared to reduce the threat posed by bitou bush and boneseed to threatened species, populations and ecological communities and species which may become threatened as a result of invasion by the weeds. The TAP identifies priorities for collaborative bitou bush control across public and private land in NSW at priority sites.
  • National bitou bush and boneseed program
    In 2000, bitou bush and boneseed were collectively listed as a Weed of National Significance (WoNS). The Bitou bush and boneseed strategic plan
    2012-2017 (National Strategy 2012-2017)
     provides direction for national management of these weeds.
    The Weeds of National Significance website provides many resources for tackling Bitou and boneseed.
  • NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 
    Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, the Bitou Bush Biosecurity Zone covers all land within the State except land within 10 kilometres of the mean highwater mark of the Pacific Ocean between Cape Byron in the north and Point Perpendicular in the south. North of Cape Byron and south of Point Perpendicular bitou bush is to be eradicated, containing bitou bush to its core distribution. Under the Act, boneseed must be eradicated from all of NSW, as outlined in the Biosecurity (Boneseed) Control Order 2017

Best-practice management techniques for bitou bush and boneseed

Guidelines for management techniques for the control of bitou bush and boneseed in our national parks include: