with Brownie

Weeds in the backyard or the back paddock are an unavoidable consequence of owning a little patch of local paradise.
At this time of the year, there are some weeds that you need to take more notice of.
Today I’ll just highlight two – one for the backyarder and one for the back-paddocker (if that’s an actual noun).

For the back-paddocker – Groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia)

Groundsel bush
(image courtesy Biosecurity Queensland)

Groundsel bush is a declared pest plant under State legislation and so must be controlled by landholders.

It originates from Florida, USA and was first brought to Brisbane in 1900 as a garden ornamental shrub.

It grows as a densely branched shrub ground up to about 3m high and can be found anywhere from open paddocks, to forests, to watercourses. They can even tolerate brackish areas, growing right up against mangrove forests.

It’s stems are green and supple when young and turn woody and brown as they mature, and they have 2-5cm long, 1-3cm wide whitish-green lobed leaves.

Interestingly, they are separate male or female plants, with the male plants flowering before the females.

Male Groundsel bush has yellowish flower buds, while the females produce bunches of small, fluffy white flowers.

Each female plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds which can float a long way in the wind.

As the weedy shrub has now come into flower, it’s important that any Groundsel bush be eliminated before their fluffy seeds blow across the landscape.

Control them now by hand pulling or digging, or by using an appropriate herbicide. But if you only have scattered plants, it’s a good idea, before the control, to carefully remove the flowering heads, bag them and bin these in your general waste bin (not the green waste bin).

For the backyarder – Silverleaf desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum)

For the backyarder – Silverleaf desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum)

You might also know this pesky plant as ‘velcro weed’ owing to it’s very annoying and persistently grippy seeds which stick to clothes and pet hair like velcro. This is because it is covered with tiny hairs with a hooked end.

It is an introduced legume plant from South America, which is used as a pasture fodder plant for cattle.

Unfortunately, it also grows just as well outside of a paddock, and can become a pest plant along roadsides, in gardens and on acreage land.

It is distinguished from its cousin, Greenleaf desmodium, by having a sliver splash of colour on the leaf – so hence the ‘silverleaf’ part of the name.

Being a legume, it has a good solid taproot, so hand removal means removing as much of the root as possible.

It can be sprayed with an appropriate broadleaf weed killer (something like ‘Kamba-M’).

Or buy a cow.

Make sure you take all the seeds off your clothes and put them in a bag and in the bin; otherwise you’ll just spread it around your block even more.

Main image: Dogs and desmodium don’t mix