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Weedy Wednesday - Boneseed

Boneseed, like many weedy plants, was originally introduced as an ornamental plant. With lovely yellow flowers, it can easily be thought of as a desirable plant. However, this garden escapee causes significant problems in the wild. It is highly adaptable to different environments, fast growing and can produce up to 50,000 seeds per year.

Why is it a problem?

Boneseed poses a threat to low coastal vegetation, where it can rapidly replace native plants. Fast growing, it quickly shades out natives under 2m tall, preventing their growth, such as Pohutukawa seedlings that need a lot of light to survive. It grows densely, which as well as preventing natives growing, it can also restrict people’s access to beaches.

Boneseed on hillside
Boneseed. Credit: Carolyn Lewis, Weedbusters

What does it look like?

  • Leaves are smooth and leathery, with irregularly toothed edges.

  • Leaves grow in opposite pairs along the stems.

  • Clusters of small hard, oval fruit, that turn from green to black when mature.

  • Seeds are bone-like in colour and extremely hard.

  • Bushy and semi-woody, grows to 2-3m tall.

  • Stems are ribbed and wooly when they are young, and become smooth as it matures.

  • Bright yellow daisy like flowers 25-30mm wide.

  • Flowers September-February

What can you do?

Remove any plants you have at home by hand. It is especially important to remove all the flowers before they seed to reduce the spread. Make sure you keep monitoring the area in future years as seeds can survive a long time.

If you see them on public land, snap a photo and send it in on the Find-A-Pest app so your local council or DOC can manage any response.

But I like the yellow flowers!

There are many other yellow flower shrub varieties that are non-invasive (weedy). Try planting

Shrub daisy (Brachyglottis greyi) or Grey haired europs (Euryops pectinatus) which is fast growing and hardy.

Plant these instead! Shrub daisy (Brachyglottis greyi)
Euryops pectinatus flowers close up
Plant these instead! Euryops pectinatus Credit: Peter J. de Lange, Licence: CC BY-NC.

Also known as

Saltbush, bitou bush (subspecies rotundata), Higgins curse, Osteospermum monilifera


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