Gorse

GORSE (Furze)

A dense, very spiny prickly shrub with bright yellow flowers over much of the year, but particularly late winter through spring. Up to two metres or more if left unchecked. Seeds in pods. Grows mostly in warmer months, so spraying in cooler weather is often ineffective. Good habitat for small birds such as wrens, finches, chats and thornbills, so consider replacing Gorse with suitable natives where possible. Stem can be cut and painted successfully. Do not burn on site after spraying, because this encourages seed growth. Ground disturbance also encourages seedling growth. Tough seeds last in ground for decades.

CAPE BROOM (Montpellier Broom)

A fairly open shrub to about 2 metres with tough stems and small leaves in threes. Yellow pea-type flowers in spring. Seeds in pods which burst in December – January. Spray any time, but spring and early summer gives best results. Seed lasts for years in the ground.

ENGLISH BROOM

A bright green shrub to about 2 metres with angular stems and very small leaves, or may appear to be leafless. Distinguish from Cape Broom by lack of leaves, and angled stems. Bright yellow pea flowers in spring. Seeds in pods which burst in December – January. Seed lasts for years in the ground. Seeds provide food for pigeons and other birds, but the plant has little other environmental value.

FLAX-LEAF BROOM

Dense shrub to 1.5 m or more tall, with narrow leaves in threes, and bright yellow pea flowers clustered at tips of branches in spring. Mostly found in milder areas than Ballarat, and mostly on roadsides and disturbed areas. Seeds in pods which burst in December – January. Remove by pulling, digging or spraying.

SPINY BROOM

Erect spiny shrub to about two metres tall. Appears almost leafless at first glance, but often has leaves in threes. Bright yellow flowers at tips of branches in early summer. Seeds in pods which burst in December – January. Usually controlled by spraying.

BLACKBERRY

Vigorous low spreading tangled shrub with very spiny canes and well-known edible fruit. Several varieties occur, including the Cut-leaf Blackberry. Some can grow two metres or more tall. White flowers in early summer are attractive to butterflies and other insects, and the tangled shrub itself provides useful habitat for small birds such as wrens, scrub-wrens and thornbills. Fruit appears in late summer – autumn. Seed spread by birds, foxes. Makes most growth in summer, which is the recommended season to spray.

BOXTHORN (African Boxthorn)

Very stiff, dense, prickly shrub to 3m, with small, slightly succulent, bright green leaves. Small whitish flowers, followed by small red berries. Often used by birds for shelter. Can be carefully sprayed at any time, or stem cut and painted. Seeds are spread by birds.

HAWTHORN

Prickly deciduous large bushy shrub or small tree with white flowers in mid-spring and red berries in autumn. Often used by small birds as shelter and nest site, and some birds feed on berries. Usually killed by cutting trunk and painting or injecting herbicide. This must be done when the tree is in leaf.

BRIAR (Sweet Briar)

A “wild rose” to 2m, with relatively few arching or upright prickly stems. Pink single flowers in spring. A deciduous shrub. Difficult to remove when large, so herbicide is the usual method of destruction. Treat when in leaf and growing.

PINE (Radiata Pine)

Often grows as seedlings from nearby larger trees. Can be pulled when young, or cut at ground level.

WILLOWS

The usual streamside willow tree is the Basket Willow (Salix x rubens). This is often multi-trunked or low-branching. It grows from broken branches and stems that take root readily. The very different, broader-leaved Grey Sallow (Salix cinerea) is also an increasing nuisance in wetlands. It is usually a very bushy, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree. Its leaves are much paler below. Willows are usually cut and their stumps poisoned.

SPANISH HEATH

Dense upright shrub to about 2m, often found in roadside stands. Invades bushland also. Of negligible habitat value, although its flowers attract butterflies and other insects. Numerous tiny leaves, and numerous tiny white flowers from late winter to mid-spring.

BONESEED

Tough small spreading shrub, mostly less than one metre. Bright yellow daisy flowers in spring. Can be pulled, cut or sprayed. Seeds last for many years.

PATERSON’S CURSE

Robust plant to about 50-60 cm tall, with attractive blue to pink flowers. There is a rosette of leaves at ground-level. It grows in winter and spring and flowers mostly spring to summer. Mostly found in open country rather than bushland. Plants can be pulled, dug, or sprayed, preferably before seeding Often colonises bare or disturbed ground.

SAFFRON THISTLE

An annual, slender, erect, prickly thistle to 50 cm or more tall. Leaves often curved downwards. Yellow or cream flowers in summer. Dig or spray in spring before seeding.

ARTICHOKE THISTLE

Large, spreading, silvery-leaved, prickly perennial thistle with large purple flowers in summer. Can spread to 1 metre across. Mostly on dry basalt soils. Dig out, or spray in spring before flowering.

SPEAR THISTLE

The most common thistle of roadsides, paddocks and wasteland, often wrongly called Scotch thistle. A prickly biennial (lives for two years) to about one metre tall with a rosette of wide leaves at ground level. Bright pink-purple flowers in summer. Remove by digging, or spray in winter and spring before stems start to grow.

GOLDEN THISTLE

Erect thistle to 50 cm or more tall with golden flowers in summer. Can be biennial (2 years) or perennial. Usually grows on disturbed ground. Dig out, or spray in spring before stems develop.

BRIDAL CREEPER

Vigorous but weak-stemmed creeper, re-growing from rootstock every winter and spring. Dies back in summer. Mostly found under trees and shrubs, in lighter soils. Spray during growing period, before summer. Small white flowers in spring, followed by red berries which are spread by birds.

BLUE PERIWINKLE

Vigorous, bright-green spreading semi-climber with large mauve flowers in spring. Increases by root-suckering. Herbicide is the usual control method, applied in spring and summer when growing.

WEST AUSTRALIAN BLUEBELL CREEPER (Sollya)

Fast-growing, bright green sprawling or climbing shrub with attractive blue bell-shaped flowers. Seed capsules resemble small sausages. Can invade undisturbed bushland. Not difficult to pull.

PHALARIS

Vigorous, tall, perennial, exotic pasture grass, often found on roadsides and in native grassland. Up to 1 metre or more tall, with cylindrical seed-heads. Wider leaves than most native grasses. Usually not shade-tolerant. Spray in late winter through spring. Seeds drop in summer.

COCKSFOOT

Vigorous perennial exotic grass to one metre tall, occurring in several forms. Some are taller, greener, more drought tolerant, etc.  Multi-headed seed-head, unlike Phalaris. Narrow-leaved forms can be similar to Kangaroo Grass. Invades roadsides, native grasslands and bushland. Spraying in late winter through spring is usually effective, but some follow-up is often needed. Seeds drop in summer.

PASPALUM

Perennial summer-growing grass with seedheads on long spreading stems. Grows to one metre. Drooping seedheads often black-tinged, resembling narrow caterpillars. Usually in damper places and roadsides. Dies back in winter. Spray from mid-spring when growing. Spreads underground as well as by seeds.

MYRTLE-LEAF MILKWORT (BELLARINE PEA)

A bright green upright shrub to about 2 m tall, with bright mauve-pink pea-like flowers at the tips of the branches. An invasive nuisance in sandier soils, such as on the Bellarine Peninsula. It appears to like disturbed bushland and semi-shaded places more than open situations. Smaller plants are easily removed by hand, and larger specimens can be cut and painted. Spreads by seed. Native to South Africa.

CHILEAN NEEDLE-GRASS

A bright green invasive perennial grass very similar in appearance to several of the native Austrostipa (Spear-grass) species. It is leafier and brighter green than most native species, and its seedheads are partly purple, but great care in identification needs to be taken where native spear-grasses co-exist. The native Fine-head Spear-grass (Austrostipa oligostachya) is very similar and is a frequent plant of basalt grassland country, where Chilean Needle-grass is often found. Spot-spraying with herbicide is effective, and identification is easier in winter and early spring, before many native grasses have come into growth. This also kills the plant before it produces seeds. Boom spraying can be undertaken in sites where no native grasses occur. Found mostly on roadsides, and also in open bushland and in pasture. Increasing in range, partly due to being spread by machinery. Native to South America.

TEXAS NEEDLE-GRASS

A bright green invasive perennial grass very similar to several of the native Spear-grass (Austrostipa) species. Like Chilean Needle-grass, it is a brighter green than most native species, and has purple-tinted seedheads. Native to southern North America. Our notes on Chilean Needle-grass apply equally to this species. Seeds of both species fall readily when picked, and fall earlier than those of native Spear-grasses in the wild.

SERRATED TUSSOCK

A fine-leaved perennial tussock very similar to some of the native Tussock-grasses (Poa), but distinguished by its denser, more upright leaf growth and its rougher stems (rub backwards between fingers to confirm). The summer seed-heads are very different, being denser and more drooping when mature (native Tussock –grasses have erect stems growing well above the leaves). Hand-digging with mattock is effective for removal, but can disturb ground more than is desirable. Spot-spraying with herbicide in winter and before seeding in November is very effective. Boom-spraying should only be undertaken where no desirable species occur. A grass of open places, it can be shaded out by planting an area with trees and shrubs. It is native to South America and it occurs here mostly on drier basalt soils.

AFRICAN LOVE-GRASS

A dull green perennial grass with a tall open seedhead similar to that of the native Tussock-grasses (Poa). Seedheads can reach 1m or more. Leaves are mostly near ground-level. Seed-heads have a greyish or olive tone. It grows mostly in open country and seems to be mostly confined to roadsides. It can invade undisturbed native grassland. It is best controlled by spot-spraying with herbicide in winter and spring before its seed forms. This plant is increasing its range and should be destroyed when found in new areas.

BLANKET-WEED

A ground-covering spreading perennial plant that can cover several metres. Its leaves are usually dull green or greyish and it has tiny white or pale pink flowers in late spring. It is a common weed of roadsides and waste places. Do not confuse it with the similar native Berry Saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata), which often occurs in the same places. Galenia is denser, has slightly hairy leaves and white or pink flowers, while the Saltbush is usually more silver in colour, is not as dense, and has insignificant flowers (not with five distinct petals). Galenia usually has one central root, which makes mattocking a useful control method. Herbicide spraying is also effective. It is from South Africa and was introduced for its effective ground-holding ability. It is mostly found in drier open areas, but also occurs under light tree cover. This plant is increasing its range and should be removed immediately when found in areas where it has not been previously known.

RIBWORT (PLANTAIN)

A common lawn weed that can also be an invasive nuisance in natural areas. It is usually a biennial. There are native plantains, but their leaves are not as clearly 5-ribbed, and they have shorter flower-stems and they survive mostly in undisturbed areas. Spot-spraying can be effective, as can hand-digging or hand-pulling in looser soils. It is native to Europe.

COTONEASTER

An escaped garden shrub that can spread if left unchecked. It grows to two metres or more and is readily distinguished by its fairly large leaves (paler underneath), and its red berries in autumn and winter. Clusters of cream flowers appear in summer. It is mostly spread by Blackbirds eating the berries. It is native to Asia. Herbicide spraying, or cut-and-paint are effective control measures. Rosellas and probably a few other native birds eat the berries, and the flowers attract many insects including native butterflies. Can occur in open or forested habitats.

SWEET PITTOSPORUM

A large-leaved exotic-looking shrub or small tree that is native to eastern Australia (but not western Victoria). Attractive fragrant white clusters of flowers in spring, followed by orange berries in summer and autumn. Control by hand-pulling smaller plants, or by cutting-and-painting larger ones. This species appears to be increasing its range. It grows mostly in forested situations and is probably spread by birds such as Blackbirds and currawongs.

INKWEED

A fast growing shrubby plant that can reach two metres or more, but is mostly less than one metre. It is a short-lived perennial and it grows mostly in lighter soils. It has a strong taproot. Flowers (mostly late spring) are in “spikes”, usually white, but can be reddish. Control by pulling smaller plants or cutting larger ones. The red or blackish seeds, with red juice, are spread by Blackbirds. Mostly found near trees rather than in open places. Native to central America.

ENGLISH IVY

A tough, long-lived creeper from Europe that can smother native vegetation in forests. Spreads by berries eaten by Blackbirds and others. Autumn flowers are attractive to bees, wasps and other insects. Control by cutting-and-painting the main stem, or by applying herbicide to leaves.

SOURSOB

Can form extensive spreading patches that smother native vegetation in spring. Dies back to underground tubers in early summer, then re-shoots in autumn or early winter. Attractive bright yellow flowers on stalks above leaves in spring. Occurs mostly on disturbed sites, but also in bushland, particularly on lighter soils. Control by herbicide application in late winter and spring. A perennial plant native to South Africa. Native yellow-flowered Oxalis species have much smaller, non-tubular flowers and much shorter flower stems, also smaller leaves.

LARGE-FLOWERED WOOD-SORREL (PURPLE OXALIS)

An invasive ground-hugging plant with attractive bright magenta flowers, mainly in spring. Its leaves are dark green. Readily invades native vegetation, especially grasslands. Is easily spread by earth disturbance such as ripping and grading. It dies back to underground tubers in summer. Control by spot-spraying, being careful of native vegetation. Native to South Africa.

SHEEP’S SORREL

A suckering perennial plant from Europe, found mainly in paddocks and on roadsides, but can invade native vegetation, both bushland and grassland. Its presence often indicates acid soils. Numerous tiny reddish flowers in spring. Selective herbicide application is the most effective means of control in natural areas. Changing soil pH levels can be beneficial in larger areas (Sorrel likes acid soils).

BLACK ELDERBERRY (COMMON ELDER)

A rather open deciduous shrub or small tree, mostly to three or four metres tall. Compound leaves, clusters of white spring flowers and clusters of juicy black berries in summer and autumn. Blackbirds spread the seeds. Mostly in higher-rainfall forests and roadsides. Eradicate by cut-and-paint method, or by spraying in spring and summer. From Europe. The native White Elderberry is a much smaller, less-woody and more tender shrub with white berries.

AMSINCKIA (FIDDLENECK, TAR WEED)

Yellow-flowered invasive weeds mostly of milder areas. There are a few similar species, mostly less than 50 cm tall. Small bright golden-yellow flowers grow at the tips, which are often curled. A prolific seeding annual pest that grows rapidly in winter. Hand-pull or apply herbicide before seeding occurs. Prefers lighter soils. Native to South America.

CAPE WATTLE

A small wattle-like tree or large shrub with dense greenish-yellow fluffy flowers. Leaves are similar to some of the feathery-leaved (bipinnate) wattles. Fast-growing but not long-lived. Native to south-western Australia. Usually controlled by hand pulling or by cutting-and-painting. Occurs mostly on roadsides or edges of bushland. Distinguished from wattles because its flowers are larger and brush-like, not ball-shaped like most wattles. Spreads readily by seed, especially if burnt. Honeyeaters feed from its flowers.

LARGE QUAKING-GRASS (SHELL GRASS)

A European annual grass that is obvious when its large dangling seed-heads appear in late spring and summer. Very common along many bushland roadsides and also in bushland itself. Seems to prefer growing under light tree cover rather than in the open. Dries and dies in summer; seedlings appear the following winter. Young plants can be difficult to distinguish from other exotic annual grasses such as Veldt-grasses. Control by hand-removal or by careful spraying.

BATHURST BURR

A small, spiky shrub-like annual plant with spiky fruit. Seldom more than knee-high. Flowers are inconspicuous. Seeds spread in burrs attached to sheep’s wool. Occurs in open places. Control by hand-removal or by herbicide. From South America.

SALSIFY

An upright biennial plant to about 80 cm, with grass-like leaves and large dull purple daisy-like flowers in late spring and early summer. Seedheads large, fluffy brown. Has a taproot. Invades mainly waste places and roadsides, but also native grasslands. Control by hand-pulling or by herbicide application before seeding. From Europe.

GREAT BROME

A fairly tall annual grass (to about 80cm) with awned seeds (one long stiff hair per seed). Usually grows on disturbed and waste ground but also occurs in native grassland and bushland, mostly where disturbance has occurred. Distinguish from native Spear-grasses (Austrostipa) by larger “seed”, hairy wider leaves. Control by hand-pulling or by herbicide application before seed matures. Dies off in summer. Native to Europe.

WILD OATS (BEARDED OAT)

A tall annual grass, reaching a metre or more. Dangling seed-heads on fine stalks, at top of tall stems. Mostly on roadsides and in disturbed grassland, but can be a nuisance in native grassland. Control by hand pulling or by herbicide. Dies off in summer, with new seedlings growing next autumn and winter.

BULBIL WATSONIA

Perennial clump-forming tussock with wide, bright-green erect pointed leaves and tall flower stems. Tubular orange flowers in early summer. Can grow to a metre or more. Mostly found on roadsides, wasteland and disturbed sites, in both open and bush areas. Spreads by bulbs and by seeds. Eradication is usually by herbicide, but small populations can be carefully dug. Native to South Africa.