Pretty little menace

A pretty perennial which features in many private gardens is invading coastal environments and proving that looks can be deceiving.

The Cape Tulip (Moraea flaccida) is a popular garden plant that features salmon pink or orange flowers and is available for purchase at a wide range of garden centres and nurseries.

The Cape Tulip may look innocent, but it is actually a noxious weed.
The Cape Tulip may look innocent, but it is actually a noxious weed.

It’s therefore not surprising that many coastal residents don’t realise they are harbouring a noxious weed on their property.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Office Georgie Beale said the Cape Tulip, which grows from a bulb, is a particular problem in the Aireys Inlet area.

“This noxious weeds competes with and replaces indigenous species that provide habitat for native fauna by restricting their growth and regeneration.”

“The Cape Tulip spreads by a number of methods including via wind and running water and the movement of soil.

“The corms (underground plant stems) and seeds can also be carried by the wool or fur and feet of animals or through green waste disposal,” she said.

cape tulip Habitat
An example of typical Cape Tulip habitat and spread.

Ms. Beale said that GORCC’s Environment and Land Management Plan found that the most significant issue facing the natural environment along the coast is the impact of weeds.

“We have been working with local volunteer groups ANGAIR and Friends of Aireys Inlet Coastal Reserve to control the spread of weeds like Cape Tulip for years through spraying and other methods,” she said.

Attempts to manage the weed have been successful however work is hampered by the persistent spread from private and other property.

“Attempting to control the problem in isolation is not an effective strategy so we work with partnering bodies as part of the Otway Eden Project such as the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

“We have also approached and discussed the problem with adjacent landholders in the area,” said Ms. Beale.

The Cape Tulip spreads easily and can be carried by wind, water, soil or animals.
The Cape Tulip spreads easily and can be carried by wind, water, soil or animals.

Ms. Beale encouraged landholders on the coast to identify the Cape Tulip and remove it from their garden.

“Small, isolated pockets can be dug up and disposed of, however large areas may need spraying,” she said.

For more information on weeds on the coast download Environmental Weeds Invaders of the Surf Coast Shire online or visit

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the  Coast Column.


Have you spotted Cape Tulip in your garden or on the coast??


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