Castor oil plant PIC: Contributed
Castor oil plant PIC: Contributed

Extremely toxic weed emerges on major southwest river

A southwest Queensland council is raising the alarm about an extremely toxic plant that has sprouted along a major river.

The Maranoa Regional Council is advising their communities that a local landholder has confirmed reports of the poisonous castor oil plant (ricinus communis) in the Maranoa River

around the Mitchell area.

The seeds of these weeds contain a toxin that is extremely toxic to livestock and humans.

Castor oil plants can quickly spread and are commonly found in areas with sandy soils, including creek banks and gullies.

They are a tall, branching perennial shrub that grows three metres or occasionally higher. There are numerous distinguishing features of the plant which

include stout and hollow stalks, new branches that are pale green or red, a greyish colour for mature plants, large leaves about 10-60cm in diameter, and seven to nine pointed triangular segments and conspicuous veins on the leaves.

While castor oil plants are not a prohibited or restricted plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014,

the council is encouraging landholders adjacent to the Maranoa River to inspect their land and, should they discover the plant, undertake control.

Any seed pods should be removed and bagged for disposal by deep burying or solar sterilisation and burning.

Landholders who want further information can call the council’s Rural Land Services team on 1300 007 662 or click here.