A number of weeds are common problems in our region.
A number of weeds are common problems in our region.

WHAT'S THAT WEED? 10 garden pests and what to do about them

SPOTTING a weed is easy, figuring out what it is and what to do about it can be a little harder. 

We've gone back through the archives to revisit some of the timeless weed articles written by local plant guru Ian Read where he details some of the most pesky plants in our backyards and the best course of action to take.

WEED: Duranta flowers and leaves. Photo Ian Read
WEED: Duranta flowers and leaves. Photo Ian Read Contributed

The killer shrub lurking in our gardens

Duranta erecta can be spotted in many a Bundaberg garden, but did you know it's actually classed as a weed?

The relative of lantana was first recorded in Queensland in 1931 as a potential weed but has spread in coastal areas of Queensland.

Branches of duranta have 2cm long spines all the way along them that can easily pierce or scratch skin and are tough enough to even puncture through gardening gloves.

Duranta has also been reported to cause dermatitis just from being handled.

As for its berries, they've been known to kill birds, dogs and cats.

It is difficult to kill and often requires a tree herbicide to kill it by drill and injection method.

Weed of the Week: Starburr (Acanthospermum hispidum).This species is native to Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and tropical South America.Photo: Ian Read
Weed of the Week: Starburr (Acanthospermum hispidum).This species is native to Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and tropical South America.Photo: Ian Read

 

Starburr causing grief to soft-pawed critters

THE starburr is native to Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and tropical South America, but it now likes to call paddocks and bushland in Bundaberg home.

It has also invaded national parks, where it causes significant environmental damage to natural ecosystems and small native animals with soft paws.

Herbicide applications are the easiest control method but footwear should be checked afterwards for burrs.

Leucaena leucocephala is a small, fast-growing large shrub to small tree native to southern Mexico and northern Central America.
Leucaena leucocephala is a small, fast-growing large shrub to small tree native to southern Mexico and northern Central America.

Imported pest one of the worst for south-east Queensland 

Leucaena leucocephala was deliberately imported last century as cattle fodder, fuel wood, shade, food and green manure, but is now a visible weedy shrub, mostly found along roadsides, river banks, and in disturbed sites such as urban development or road works.

It is ranked number 41 in the list of 200 serious environmental weeds of south-east Queensland.

Control is to hand-pull small, individual plants and take care to remove the roots to prevent regrowth. Herbicides are effective.

FAST-GROWING PEST: Painted spurge is ranked among the top 200 environmental weeds in south-east Queensland.
FAST-GROWING PEST: Painted spurge is ranked among the top 200 environmental weeds in south-east Queensland. Ian Read

Painted spurge is a scourge for our environment

We've all seen it in our gardens at some stage - the colourful painted spurge.

Commonly spread through irresponsible dumping of garden waste, the fast growing tall herb can quickly multiply to dominate an area.

Seedlings and smaller plants can be hand-pulled, bagged and disposed of but not in the green waste section of local rubbish dumps.

Gloves should be worn, as the milky sap may cause skin irritations.

WIDESPREAD PEST: Cuphea flowers are small, with six petals, and are violet to purple in colour.
WIDESPREAD PEST: Cuphea flowers are small, with six petals, and are violet to purple in colour. Contributed

Weed has been annoying us since the 1980s

CUPHEA carthagenensis is also known as Colombian waxweed and is a short-lived herbaceous plant from tropical America where it is also known by the common names of tarweed and Colombian cuphea.

This species was first recorded becoming invasive in the Murwillumbah district of New South Wales in 1973.

It then appeared in the Bundaberg area in the 1980s.

Individual plants may be easily hand-pulled, bagged, and disposed of in an appropriate manner, if found in small quantities in natural areas.

Chemical control may be needed with bigger plants.

WHIFFY WEED: The tendrils of the stinking passionflower produce an unpleasant odour.
WHIFFY WEED: The tendrils of the stinking passionflower produce an unpleasant odour. Contributed

Passionflower weed causing a stink in the environment

Stinking passionflower is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland, the Northern Territory, the coastal districts of Northern New South Wales, and northern Western Australia.

While less common in south-east Queensland than the other weedy passionfruit species (corky passion vine and white passionflower), stinking passionflower is an invasive environmental weed along river and creek banks, forest edges, crops, pastures, coastal vegetation, and roadsides.

Hand pulling vines when the soil is moist is the most reliable form of control.

INVASIVE: Purple joyweed or ruby leaf alternanthera has about 200 species worldwide native to southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, tropical South America, Asia, and Australia.
INVASIVE: Purple joyweed or ruby leaf alternanthera has about 200 species worldwide native to southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, tropical South America, Asia, and Australia. Contributed

Not much joy to be had with this weed

Most species of joyweed are now regarded as environmental weeds in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia.

Alternanthera species can be manually, mechanically, or chemically killed.

The use of herbicides are the most effective method of control, because pieces of Alternanthera can break off if hand pulled, or mechanically methods are used.

It is important to try to remove every small pieces.

Follow-up herbicide application is useful after hand pulling most of the plant.

WEEDING THEM OUT: Scotch/Spear thistle Cirsium vulgare.
WEEDING THEM OUT: Scotch/Spear thistle Cirsium vulgare. Contributed

Thistle is no friend of the Australian eco-system

Scotch thistle is very common in south-eastern Queensland, the southern and eastern parts of New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania and in the south-western parts of Western Australia and the south-eastern parts of South Australia. Scattered infestations are present in northern parts of Queensland.

Scotch thistle is a weed of crops, orchards, vineyards, pastures, forestry plantations, parks, gardens, roadsides, waste areas, disturbed sites, riparian vegetation, open woodlands and grasslands.

Flowering stems should be collected and destroyed to keep them from forming viable seed.

Goats will graze spear thistles at the flowering stage, eating flowers, seed heads and stems.

WEED OF THE WEEK: Corky passion vine, Passiflora suberosa, is a tropical South American vine.
WEED OF THE WEEK: Corky passion vine, Passiflora suberosa, is a tropical South American vine. Ian Read

Corky passion vine is no fun 

Corky passion vine is an aggressive climber or ground cover that is widely invasive in northern and eastern Queensland, in the north-western parts of the Northern Territory, and in the coastal districts of northern and central New South Wales.

The most reliable method of control for corky passionflower is hand pulling when the soil is moist. 

WEED OF THE WEEK: Blackberry leaves, flowers and fruit Photo Contributed
WEED OF THE WEEK: Blackberry leaves, flowers and fruit Photo Contributed Contributed

Why this weed is in your garden and how to beat it

Last but not least, is glossy nightshade.

Up to 178,000 seeds can be produced by one plant and the seeds are often spread by birds and other animals that can eat the ripe fruit.  Fruit and seeds can also be spread on shoes, tractor implements and vehicles by humans.

Hand pulling when the soil is moist is a good form of control, but it has a strong tap root and can break off above ground.

It is important to bag pulled plants due to the numerous seeds.



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