Many of the road-side and rail-side reserves of Drouin contain two particular weed species of some concern, Wild Tobacco Tree, (Solanum mauritianum), and Sweet Pittosporum, (Pittosporum undulatum).
Wild Tobacco Tree - more a shrub than a tree - is from South America and is a very invasive and highly toxic species. The unripe berries in particular are highly poisonous and have been known to cause deaths in stock animals, (and humans by all accounts!). For some people, even the fine hairs on the underside of the leaves can irritate the skin.
Wild Tobacco Tree out competes native vegetation and can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It particularly likes disturbed sites and is stimulated by fire. Some birds and mammals will eat the ripe fruit and this is thought to be the main way the species is distributed.
Sweet Pittosporum is a native species that originated in Queensland but has now spread right down the south-east coastal strip and elsewhere, even to other countries. It is a fast grower and can quickly out-shade other native trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses.
Considering the environmental damage that can be done by this species, it is hard to fathom why it is still sold in plant nurseries. This invader too, is principally spread by birds and mammals that eat the fruit.
Whilst ‘one man’s weed is another’s wildflower’ is a popular adage, when it comes to some species perhaps a modicum of prudence might be advisable!
Note: There are numerous websites that offer suggestions as to how to eradicate these and other weeds. Here’s a link to the Baw Baw Shire’s Weed Control page.