As I get older I tend to think less about weedy plants being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. At the risk of unleashing a flow of comments suggesting I reconsider, let me qualify my position.
Along Mia Mia Road there are a number of clumps of introduced European Blackberry Rubus fruticosus aggregate. These plants have been growing there for as long as I can remember, thriving in the disturbed soil that is a legacy of gold mining, road making and a variety of semi-agricultural pursuits. Despite their longevity they don’t appear to have spread much beyond their current location – you certainly won’t find the species growing on the surrounding rises and ridgelines where regrowth bush dominates the infertile soils. This is not the case in many better-watered parts of Victoria where Blackberry is an aggressive weed that dominates high-value riparian areas in particular. In the absence of native shrubs around this site the Blackberry is providing habitat for a variety of small birds – Superb fairy-wren, Red-browed Firetail, White-browed Scrub-wren, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and even White-browed Babblers using it sometimes for nesting.
Now I’m certainly not advocating allowing plants such as Blackberry to spread, but given a limited amount of effort to expend it would perhaps be better to establish some local blackberry ‘analogues’ such as Spreading Wattle, Hedge Wattle and Bushy Needlewood nearby, as a precursor to some concerted blackberry control. That way the small birds will have safe refuges for nesting and over time the habitat will be enhanced.