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Published: 2004-10-08 00:00:00

It’s that time of year when allergy sufferers may feel the effects of many flowering plants.

Although not proven, the strong scent of tree privet and Chinese privet flowers is thought to aggravate hayfever and asthma. The leaves and berries of both plants are also poisonous.

Tree privet and Chinese privet were introduced to New Zealand from China as ornamental and hedging plants. Like many plant pests, privet is a ‘garden escape’ and has the ability to successfully regenerate in the wild. Birds eat privet berries and spread the seeds.

Privet can rapidly colonise waste areas and displace native species in native forest margins or regenerating bush.

Privet is a controlled plant pest under the Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy because of its invasive characteristics and its effect on peoples’ health. Under the Strategy, it is the responsibility of landowners to remove privet from their properties.

Control of privet can be enforced under Strategy rules where neighbours have a health complaint about flowering privet. Under these rules individual privet plants must be removed while privet hedges must be kept trimmed to prevent flowering.

More information on plant pests in the Waikato Region can be found on Environment Waikato’s website www.ew.govt.nz