Khaki weed: A prickly pest
09 November 2018
Landholders and residents of the Northern and Yorke region are urged to be on the lookout for khaki weed (Alternanthera pungens), a declared plant originally from South America.
A prostrate, summer growing herb, the weed produces a prickly, straw-coloured burr approximately one centimetre long that can cause injury to stock and degrade wool quality.
Isolated infestations of khaki weed have been detected throughout the Northern and Yorke region, however the plant prefers light soils, warm temperatures and plenty of water.
Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Landscape Ranger Di Makotter said areas with high traffic are particularly at risk.
"Caravan parks, picnic areas and reserves can be hotspots for khaki weed, where there is often bare soil, frequent watering and lots of foot traffic," Ms Makotter said.
"Another location where it can quickly establish is along roadsides, where runoff can boost soil moisture levels. The seeds can easily be dispersed over long distances when burrs attach themselves to clothing, animals or machinery."
Ms Makotter warned that the public needs to remain vigilant, otherwise khaki weed could become a much larger problem.
"It is disturbing that the number and size of khaki weed infestations seem to be increasing each year. We need the public to keep an eye out for this summer pest before it takes hold," Ms Makotter said.
Landholders have a responsibility under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 to destroy khaki weed infestations on their property.
New infestations should be controlled as soon as possible, before the burrs have a chance to mature.
For small patches, the best control is manual removal, making sure to dig down and remove the entire taproot to prevent regrowth.
Chemical control should only be used when the weed is actively growing and will need to be followed up each year until eradicated.
In recent weeks, Natural Resources Northern and Yorke have been undertaking roadside control of khaki weed.
If you find an infestation of khaki weed, please contact Natural Resources Northern and Yorke on 8841 3444. Reports from the public are valuable, as what can appear at first glance to be an isolated plant, may end up being a larger infestation.