Lily pillage

Here’s a pretty picture.

Arum, or 'death', lilies mark the graves of Jane Lashmar aged 19 years and her sister's husband Thomas Clarke.
Arum Lilies mark the graves of Jane Lashmar and her sister’s husband Thomas Clark.

These graves of pioneers at Antechamber Bay, Kangaroo Island were planted with Arum ‘death’ Lilies as a mark of respect for the pioneers buried there. For many years they’ve made a beautiful garden around the grave site.

But in the past few decades the lilies have been extending into new areas of Lashmar Conservation Park, home of the graves. The once small central lily area, is now a 20 by 15 metre blob of congealed lilies. Nearby a similarly sized area is covering much of the ground it occupies.

Birds spread the seeds and the tubers multiply and break off. The lilies invade pasture and bushland; they are poisonous to stock and can irritate human skin.

In Western Australia, where they choke rivers, pastures and bushland, Arum Lilies are a declared weed. In South Australia, creeks South of Adelaide are heading in the same direction.

Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks is taking action on our patch. A contractor has sprayed the central infestation (and he’ll do so again next year to make sure we knock them out). Our group members are searching the northern areas of the park in a grid pattern to see how far they have spread. We’ve walked along about 18km of creek (and fought through pretty bloody thick bush) and not found a lily.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s been a dry year and seeds and pieces of tuber could pop up all over the place if next year is a wet one.

Yet, we’ve been asked. ‘They are so pretty, why not let them grow?’

Where do I start? Here. Next week.

Lilies sprayed one month ago.
Lilies sprayed one month ago.
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