Weeds in Australia

About weeds

Sleeper weeds

Sleeper weeds are plants that appear benign for many years, but which may suddenly spread rapidly following certain natural events such as flood, fire, drought, climate change, or change in land or water management. Sleeper weeds are not always recognised as a significant problem, even though the potential threat they pose to industry, people or the environment may be extreme.

Agricultural sleeper weeds are naturalised exotic plants, that are currently only present in small areas but that have the potential to spread widely and have a major impact on agriculture.

In 2003 the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS), through consultation with the Australian Weeds Committee, short-listed 17 potential agricultural sleeper weeds. BRS prioritised 10 species for which eradication was thought to be both desirable and feasible.

The potential agricultural sleeper weed list complements the Weeds of National Significance list, which includes weeds that are already widespread.

Sleeper weed list

Category 1

Species that are considered to have been eradicated but are recommended for ongoing field monitoring.

Common Name Scientific Name Extent in Australia
Common Crupina Crupina vulgaris SA
Parodi Spike Rush Eleocharis parodii NSW
Uruguayan Ricegrass Piptochaetium montevidense Vic

Category 2

Species for which recent field surveys are complete and which are recommended for immediate eradication.

Common Name Scientific Name Extent in Australia
Chinese Violet Asystasia gangetica ssp. micrantha NSW
Chilquilla Baccharis pingraea Vic
Mallee Cockspur Centaurea eriophora SA
Lobed Needle Grass Nassella charruana Vic
Meadow Parsley, Water Dropwort Oenanthe pimpinelloides SA, Vic
Taurian Thistle Onopordum tauricum Vic

Category 3

Species considered suitable for eradication but for which field surveys on distribution are recommended to confirm feasibility of eradication.

Common Name Scientific Name Extent in Australia
Pannicle Jointvetch Aeschynomene paniculata Qld, NT?
Badhara Bush Gmelina elliptica Qld
Creeping Yellow Cress Rorippa sylvestris Tas, SA

Category 4

Eradication is desirable but probably not feasible, for which field surveys on distribution are recommended to confirm this assessment.

Common Name Scientific Name Extent in Australia
Giant Tropical Salvia Brillantaisia lamium Qld
Chilean Dodder Cuscuta suaveolens SA
Orange Hawkweed Hieracium aurantiacum Tas, Vic
Snakecotton Froelichia floridana Qld
Square-stalked St John's Wort Hypericum tetrapterum Vic, Tas