13 May 2022

Seven year old spreads the word about a weed

From Afternoons, 1:30 pm on 13 May 2022

Thanks to the curious mind of seven-year-old Eden Fearnside, Kiwis are learning about an invasive pest commonly mistaken for toetoe.

Eden and her mother Julia recently wrote the article Pesky Pampas! Not Native Toetoe for the Department of Conversation website.

Ryan (L) and Eden Fearnside

Ryan (L) and Eden Fearnside Photo: supplied

Last year, Julia Fearnside was driving around Auckland when her daughter Eden asked about some white fluffy grasses that resembled toetoe.

Julia had a feeling the tussock wasn't toetoe and Eden was keen to identify just what it was. Their research revealed that the plant was actually an imposter from South America known as pampas grass.

  • Read Toetoe or Pampas Grass? 3 Tips To Tell Them Apart here
Pampas grass / native toetoe

Pampas grass / native toetoe Photo: Julia Fearnside / Herb Christophers

So how do you know pampas when you see it?

The easiest way to identify plants is by their flowers, Eden says.

"Toetoe has droopy golden flower heads that curve down and pampas, their flowers point straight up and they're really fluffy. They've got a thicker texture than toetoe and their colours are usually white, cream, purple or pink."

Eden hopes her article on the DOC website will alert others to pesky pampas, which plays home to mice, rats and possums and is also a fire hazard.

Pampas is a big problem, agrees Julia. She's glad they're helping to get the word out and stop the spread.

"People can start to get rid of the [pampas grass] in their own gardens and go from there."

Check out pampas removal tips from Weedbusters and the Waikato Regional Council.