Weed Alert: Boneseed
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- Declared in NSW under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 (Current Status)
- Weed of National Significance (definition)
Contacts and Further InformationIf you find this weed please help to prevent its further spread by contacting your local Council Weeds Officer or the nearest NSW Department of Primary Industries office immediately for positive identification and further assistance.
Alternatively call the NSW Weeds Hotline on
1800 680 244 or send an email to email@example.com
Boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera)
Boneseed has the ability to aggressively invade native bushland in Australia. Its vigorous growth and ability to regenerate and spread quickly in disturbed situations, such as fire or clearing, allows it to outcompete native species. It is also a threat to a number of significant rare or threatened species.
Boneseed prefers sandy or medium textured soils and tolerates salty conditions, therefore thriving in coastal conditions. However it can grow in a range of habitats including dunes, mallee, open woodlands and sclerophyll forests, preferring winter rainfall regions. It does not persist when grazed or cultivated, therefore is not a threat to agriculture.
Boneseed is found over much of southern Australia. In Victoria, it is particularly prevalent around Melbourne, Portland, the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas and in the You Yangs Regional Park where it was first planted in the late 1950s to control erosion. In South Australia, extensive infestations occur around Adelaide, the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Murray River region, while the majority of infestations in Western Australia occur around Perth and Armadale. Tasmanian infestations are mainly restricted to coastal and estuarine areas.
In New South Wales (NSW), scattered infestations occur along the south and central coasts, and isolated infestations have occurred in central and western parts of the state. Without effective control, boneseed has the potential to become more abundant across its current distribution and spread into new areas, with most of southern NSW under threat.
Boneseed is a native of South Africa. It was first introduced to Australia as an ornamental garden species and grown in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne from the 1850s. It is thought to have become naturalised in Australia by 1910.
Boneseed reproduces by seed. One plant can produce 50 000 seeds a year, of which approximately 60% are viable. For some seeds, the hard seed coat splits open, allowing them to germinate as soon as there is sufficient moisture. Other seeds remain intact and can stay viable in the soil for more than ten years.
Seeds can be spread by birds, rabbits, foxes and cattle, as well as in contaminated landscape supplies and dumped garden waste.
Boneseed is an erect, perennial shrub which grows up to 3 m high. It is often mistaken for bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata), which has a more sprawling habit.
Key identification features
- Woody stems are branched and upright.
- Leaves are 3-9 cm long and alternate along the stems. They are oval shaped with irregularly serrated edges. New growth is covered with white hairs that are shed as the leaves mature.
- Flowers are yellow with 5-8 petals and up to 3 cm in diameter. Peak flowering occurs from August to October. Some plants flower in the first year, although most are at least 18 months old.
- Young fruit are round, green and fleshy and turn black when mature. They contain a single, smooth, round seed (6-7 mm diameter) which is bone-coloured when dry, giving rise to the name ‘boneseed’.
Your local council weeds officer will assist with identification and information on control, removal and eradication of this weed. Infestations can be spread by inappropriate control activities.
Boneseed is a Class 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed in parts of NSW under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. It must be eradicated and land must be kept free of the plant. As a notifiable weed, all outbreaks must be reported to the local council within 24 hours, and the plant is prohibited from sale in NSW.
Prepared by: Kirrily Condon; Reviewed by Royce Holtkamp; Edited by Elissa van Oosterhout, Birgitte Verbeek.
- CRC for Australian Weed Management (2003) Weed Management Guide – Boneseed Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. Monilifera
- Brougham KJ, Cherry H & Downey PO (eds) (2006) Boneseed Management Manual: current management and control options for boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera) in Australia, Department of Environment and Conservation NSW.