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Free Weed App brings Bushcare into the Digital Age

New app to help you identify and remove noxious weeds

"We tried to put in lots and lots of photographs so anybody can use it without needing any advanced botanical knowledge.”

Credit: itunes

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Sydney Weeds is a free app, which is aimed at bushcare volunteers, gardeners, landscapers, farmers and bush regenerators. The app’s had close to 1000 downloads since its release.

Stu Dobbie came up with the idea when he tried to tackle a prickly pear growing out of a cliff on Goat Island (Sydney Harbour National Park).

“I knew it was a noxious weed and didn’t belong on the island, but no one knew what to do with it, so I just went to remove it,” he said. “I got into all sorts of trouble, with the fine itchy hairs of the plant getting all over my skin and clothes – in short, a disaster!”

Stu had been doing volunteer bushcare for a while but was still having trouble recognising different weeds and knowing what to do with them.

“I enjoy bushcare but don't have a gardening background,” he said. “It was then I thought wouldn’t it be neat if there was a handy app to help me identify environmental weeds and give advice on how to remove or control them correctly.

“The few environmental weed websites for this region were terrible [to navigate] on avmobile phone and the weed id apps available for mobiles were for other parts of the world so they didn’t have the weeds we find here.”

Stu developed the software, while another bushcare volunteer, Judy Morris, provided the photography and descriptions. The pair met while volunteering at Barranjoey headland. “It became a project collaboration between the two of us,” Stu said. “Judy provided most of the photographs and her knowledge of environmental weeds of the region is amazing.”

The app includes more than 50 weed species. Users can consult colour photographs and detailed identification notes to identify plants and find the recommended control methods.

The app also includes native look-a-likes likely to be found in the region.

“They [users] report it is very easy to use and helpful,” Stu said. “My neighbour came up to me one day and started telling me about an app he was using at work – and it turned out to be this app! People are often surprised that some common garden plants are actually known to be bush invaders and can cause problems in our nearby native bushlands. So there is an educational component too.“And I hope it gets people interested in joining a local bushcare group and learning more.”

Stu volunteers on Bushcare's Major Day Out committee and manages our website. This year Bushcare’s Major Day Out will be held on Sunday 13 September. New volunteers are encouraged to find their local site at
Bushcares Major Day Out

Stu will be at one of the North Sydney BMDO sites with his iPhone handy. “I still need to look at photos – especially the native look-a-likes that can be easily mistaken for common weeds – to be sure I'm doing the right thing by pulling it out. So I’m hoping other people will use it [the app] in a similar way. We tried to put in lots and lots of photographs so anybody can use it without needing any advanced botanical knowledge.”
Stu and Jude plan to extend the app to use on Android mobiles and eventually include information on weeds across Sydney, NSW and the rest of Australia.

“We have thought about opening the app database so that community bushcare and landcare groups around the country can contribute and share their own regional weed profiles with their own community. That's a much bigger project so we are currently looking for some help to get us going.”

Download the App Here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/sydney-weeds/id914766739?mt=8