Tree Lucerne (Cytisus proliferus)

Tree Lucerne (Cytisus proliferus), a nefarious shrub brought to Australia as a fodder plant from the Canary Islands, and also sold in Melbourne from 1882 as a garden ornamental. This bushy legume is an environmental weed throughout southeastern Australia and parts of SA and WA, an exploiter of the compromised pastoral landscape and disturbed roadsides and rail cuts and a plant that is more than capable of spreading from disturbed toeholds into native grassland and open woodland. The introduction of Tree Lucerne is particularly insidious, as not only does the plant form dense infestations to the exclusion of other species, but as a nitrogen fixer it actively changes the soil fertility, improving conditions for other weeds and excluding native species. Its position here, on the edge of the Northcote railway cutting, is somewhat more constrained, but demonstrates its capabilities (it is present on both sides of the cutting in skeletal soils that are subject to frequent treatment with herbicides).

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