Weeds - Problem Species

Australian Weed Species

The following has been compiled from several sources and is by no means complete. If you know of other examples, please let us know. Please note that the listing of a species does not mean that it or related species are weeds generally. For example, Melaleuca quinquenervia is a very serious pest of the Florida Everglades but, as far as is known, it has not been recorded as causing problems elsewhere. However, it may be risky to plant the species in similar conditions (ie. tropical wetlands) outside of Australia.

Species Common Name Origin* Areas Affected*
Acacia alata Winged wattle South-west WA South-east NSW
Acacia auriculiformis Wattle Tropical Australia Florida, USA
Acacia baileyana Cootamundra wattle South-western slopes, New South Wales SA, Tas, Vic, WA (south-west)
Acacia dealbata Silver wattle NSW South-west WA
Acacia decurrens Green wattle South-east Australia South-west WA
Acacia dunnii Elephant ear wattle Northern Territory, WA North Qld
Acacia elata Cedar wattle South-east NSW Vic, south-west WA
Acacia floribunda White sallow wattle South-east NSW Vic
Acacia iteaphylla Flinders Range wattle SA (north of Adelaide) Vic, south-west WA
Acacia longifolia Sydney golden wattle NSW South-east SA, south-west Vic
Acacia melanoxylon Blackwood Tas South-east NSW, south-west WA
Acacia paradoxa Kangaroo thorn All states Vic and parts of inland NSW
Acacia podalyriifolia Queensland silver wattle Qld between Brisbane and Rockhampton and central inland South-east Qld, NSW, south-west WA
Acacia pycnantha Golden wattle SA South-west WA
Acacia saligna Golden wreath wattle South-west WA SA, Vic, south-east NSW, South Africa
Acacia sophorae Coast wattle NSW Inland areas of SA, Vic
Acaena agnipila Sheep's burr Australia All states
Billardiera heterophylla
(syn. Sollya heterophylla) (1)
Western Australian bluebell creeper Western Australia NSW, SA, Tas, Vic
Cassinia arcuata Chinese shrub Australia NSW, Qld, SA
Casuarina cunninghamii Australian pine** Eastern Australia Florida, USA
Casuarina equisetifolia She oak Eastern Australia Florida, USA
Casuarina glauca She oak South-eastern Australia SA, Florida, USA
Corymbia torelliana Cadaghi North Queensland South-east Queensland
Cupaniopsis anacardioides Carrotwood** Qld, NSW, NT Florida, USA
Eucalyptus globulus Tasmanian blue gum Tasmania, southern Victoria, NSW WA, California, USA
Eucalyptus saligna Sydney blue gum NSW WA
Hakea sericea Silky hakea NSW, Victoria South Africa
Hakea drupacea
Sweet hakea Western Australia South Africa
Leptospermum laevigatum Coastal tea tree
Australian myrtle**
NSW, Vic,Tas SA, NSW, south-west WA, South Africa
Melaleuca quinquenervia Punk tree** Eastern Australia, New Guinea Florida, USA
Nephrolepis cordifolia Fish bone fern NSW Qld, Vic, WA
Paraserianthes lophantha Cape wattle WA NSW, SA, Tas, Vic
Pennisetum alopecuroides Swamp foxtail Coastal NSW, although this is dubious Qld, SA, WA
Pittosporum undulatum Sweet pittosporum Qld, NSW, Tas, Vic NSW (east), SA, Vic, Cuba
Schefflera actinophylla Umbrella tree Nth.Qld, NT Florida, USA; NSW, Sth.Qld
Sclerolaena birchii Galvanized burr Australia Semi-arid NSW and Qld
Sclerolaena muricata Black roly poly Australia Semi-arid eastern Australia
Solanum hoplopetalum Afghan thistle Western Australia South-west Western Australia, South Australia
Syzygium paniculatum Magenta cherry North coast NSW South-east NSW
*NSW=New South Wales; NT=Northern Territory; Qld=Queensland; Tas=Tasmania; Vic=Victoria; WA=Western Australia.
**Common name in the country where the species is a pest.
1.In South Australia, Billardiera heterophylla is now a declared weed species that must be controlled - it is banned from sale in that State (for further information see this Declared Plant Policy).

Exotic Weeds in Australia

The following has been compiled from several sources and is not intended to be comprehensive. For details on these and other weeds of Australia, refer to the Further Information section.

Species Common Name Origin Areas Affected *
Acacia farnesiana Mimosa bush Cosmopolitan Qld, NSW
Andredera cordifolia Madeira vine South America Qld, NSW
Araujia hortorum Mothplant South America Eastern Australia
Carduus nutans ssp.nutans Nodding thistle Europe, Asia NSW, Vic, Tas, WA
Chrysanthemoides monilifera var.rotundata Bitou bush South Africa Eastern Australia

Photo: Brian Walters
Boneseed South Africa Eastern and southern Australia
Cinnamomum camphora Camphor laurel China, Japan Qld, NSW
Cyperus rotundus Nut grass Africa, Asia Qld, NSW, Vic, SA, WA, NT
Echium plantagineum Paterson's curse** Europe Australia (widespread)
Ipomoea indica Morning glory Tropics Qld, NSW
Lantana camara Lantana The Americas NT, Qld, NSW
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Ice plant South Africa Southern Australia

Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Peripitus, reproduced under the Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
Prickly pear*** Central America Widespread, particularly eastern Australia
Ricinus communis Castor oil plant Asia, Africa Australia (widespread)
Rubus fruticosus Blackberry Europe Australia (widespread)

Photo: Brian Walters
Fireweed South Africa NSW
Solanum elaeagnifolium Silver leaf nightshade; white horsenettle Southern Americas South Australia, Victoria
Ulex europaeus Gorse Europe Mainly Tas, Vic; also NSW
Xanthium spinosum Bathurst burr South America Australia (widespread)
*NSW=New South Wales; NT=Northern Territory; Qld=Queensland; Tas=Tasmania; Vic=Victoria; WA=Western Australia.
**In dry areas it is called "Salvation Jane" as it may sometimes be the only available feed for livestock.
***Several Optunia species were weeds but O.stricta was the most serious. Its control is probably the most famous example of biological control in Australia. The species spread dramatically in the early 1900s and covered millions of hectares. It was brought under control by the caterpillar Cactoblastis cactorum. Prickly pear is still widespread in all mainland Australian states but it is not the pest it once was.

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