Common Weeds in Lane Cove

Weeds are everyone's responsibility - together we can help minimise the harmful impacts of weeds on our environment. Listed below are some common invasive weeds found in the Lane Cove LGA, some of which are classified as State Priority Weeds. Discover more about these weeds, including where they grow and how to remove them.


Looking up into canopy      Camphor laurel

     Cinnamomum camphora


Control and Removal Methods


Native to East Asia, Camphor laurel was introduced to Australia and widely cultivated as a street and garden tree. Camphor laurels can live to be hundreds of years old and so many mature specimens can still be seen around Sydney streets, parks and gardens. They are an adaptable tree with a rapid growth rate and ability to suppress growth of adjacent plants – and have become a serious environmental weed. Camphor laurel is mildly toxic to humans and allergic skin reactions can also occur.


Camphor laurel is an evergreen tree growing up to 20m. It has a large spreading canopy which can cast dense shade. The trunk has rough, greyish bark and a massive root system which has the potential to block drains and crack pavements. The glossy green leaves have a paler underside and produce a distinctive pungent camphor odour when crushed. Small white flowers precede the black berries which are readily eaten by many birds and animals, which then spread this plant further afield. Up to 100,000 seeds can be produced in a year by a single mature tree!

Rough bark and small branchClose up of glossy green leaves

The glossy leaves have a wavy margin and distinctive yellow venation. Crush the leaves for the unmistakeable camphor smell. Camphor laurel will sucker from larger trees.

Control and Removal methods

Small seedlings can spring up in your garden, especially under favoured bird roosting spots and are best removed before they establish. They can be dug up carefully with a trowel.

Saplings are difficult to dig up but can be cut to ground level and the stump painted with a glyphosate herbicide.

Please note that tree removals, even of exempt weed species, require a permit from Council. Refer to Councils DCP Section J.4 Tree Preservation Guidelines for more information and apply for a tree permit via Councils website.




Golden flowers of Cassia weed      Cassia

     Senna pendula var. glabrata

Control and Removal Methods


Introduced from South America, Cassia is mostly noticed when in bloom as it becomes covered in golden yellow flowers. This sprawling shrub can often be found sneakily growing in amongst other vegetation in the garden and can eventually overgrow most plants. It has become an invasive weed of bushland along the east coast of Australia. Seeds are often dispersed in dumped garden waste and may also be spread by water or in contaminated soil.

This hardy plant thrives in most conditions and produces a large number of seeds, so is well worthwhile tackling as soon as this weed is noticed.


Cassia is a spreading, multi-branched shrub 2–4 m tall, sometimes to 5m. The stems are green when young, becoming grey to dark brown when mature. The shrub is usually erect but leans over when laden with flowers or fruit. The dark green, oval-shaped leaflets have a light-coloured mid-vein and are found paired along the stem.

Flowers are bright yellow and pea-like, found in clusters at the tips of branches. They can be present at any time of year, but most noticeable from late summer to autumn (hence the name Easter Cassia). Another distinctive feature are the long cylindrical pods which hang downwards, being green when young and brown or straw-coloured when mature. These hold up to 40 seeds each, so that a large shrub can easily produce thousands of seeds which then germinate readily.

Flowers and leaves of CassiaSeed pods hanging from shrub

Golden flowers are a distinguishing feature of this weedy shrub, as are the large bean-like seed pods.

Control & Removal Methods

Pull out the small plants at seedling stage and up to a metre or so, as Cassia is quite shallow rooted.
For larger plants you’ll need to dig and lever out the roots with a mattock.

You can also poison them by lopping or sawing stems close to ground level and immediately painting the stump with glyphosate herbicide.



Leaves and stem

     Green Cestrum     *REGIONAL PRIORITY WEED*

     Cestrum parqui


Control and Removal Methods


Green Cestrum is native to Chile and Peru and was introduced to Australia as an ornamental garden plant. It is hardy, frost tolerant and grows in a wide range of soil types and rainfall. Also known as Green Poison Berry or Chilean Cestrum, this plant is poisonous to humans and livestock. All parts of the plant, especially the berries, are very toxic if eaten. 

As a berried plant spread by birds, Green Cestrum can appear suddenly in your garden and remain unnoticed until it flowers. If ignored, it can grow into dense thickets, which become harder to eradicate. This weed can become a problem along creeks and rivers as the seed is moved readily by water.  While not nearly as common or widespread as other woody weeds such as Privet, it has the potential to follow this same trajectory and so has been listed as a priority weed in the Greater Sydney area.


Green Cestrum is a shrub that generally grows 1–3 m high, and potentially up to 5m. It usually has many light-green, brittle stems and lance-shaped leaves which have a distinctive foul odour when crushed. The yellow trumpet-shaped flowers emerge in clusters at the end of branches from late spring to autumn. They have a pleasant fragrance at night, but not so much during the day. Shiny, egg-shaped berries change from green to black when ripe.

Close up of leaf arrangementClose up of yellow flowers Green Cestrum

Long lance-shaped leaves and yellow flowers of Green Cestrum.

Wear gloves when handling this weed.

Green Cestrum has a deep and persistent taproot and will readily sucker if slashed or cut back. 
If you have this plant growing as a small seedling, you can manually remove it by digging out all the roots. 
Saplings can be treated using the scrape and paint method, applying herbicide immediately to the scraped area.
Large plants are best treated by drilling or frilling the stem followed by herbicide application, as Green Cestrum sometimes re-shoots after being cut and painted.
It is important to note that bushes that have been cut down or killed with herbicide will retain poison in their leaves, branches and berries, so are best disposed of immediately into your green waste bin.



Mickey Mouse Bush weed with black berries

     Mickey Mouse Bush

     Ochna serrulata


Control and Removal Methods


Just about any overgrown garden in Lane Cove is likely to have seedlings of this tough invasive shrub. It grows up to 2 to 3 metres tall, has dark green, finely serrated leaves and a yellowish white stem. In spring it produces many yellow flowers which over summer gradually turn red with a black, bird-attracting berry in the centre.


Ochna is reminiscent of Privet in a number of ways - it came to Lane Cove as a hedge plant; even if cut down to the ground or pruned it resprouts vigorously in the form of multi-stemmed trunks; it readily invades bushland, crowding and shading out native vegetation; and its berries are a major food source for Currawongs which spread the plant all over the North Shore.

Currawongs originally migrated between Sydney and the Blue Mountains each year but, encouraged in the last 20 years by an abundance of food (from garbage bins, petfood, residents feeding them, and the proliferation of berry-fruited plants in gardens and bushland), they now live here all year. Currawongs are merciless, efficient predators of small birds like Robins, Wrens and Honeyeaters. Sometimes you even see Currawong gangs harassing nesting Kookaburras for their eggs. Ochnas in the garden harbour Currawongs.

Mickey Mouse bush infestation  Mickey Mouse Bush weed with black berries

Ochna often grows as a dense shrub. New leaves are often a light yellow-green colour.

Control & Removal Methods

Ochnas have a very long taproot. Often at soil level or just below, the stem will have a kink in it which snaps easily when pulled. The taproot is usually twice the length or more of the above ground stem and contains loads of energy to resprout which it does 9 times out of 10 when cut or broken off. If your Ochna plant is over 10 cm high you’ll have to dig a 20 cm hole to get it out or scrape the side of the stem and paint it with glyphosate. If your Ochna is 2 metres high, the easiest, most effective control is to scrape and paint the stems with glyphosate.Mickey Mouse Bush seedlings and root sytem

If you have Ochna in your garden please replace it with a suitable alternative plant species, preferably using native plants indigenous to Lane Cove to help attract small birds.


Young Ochna plants showing the tap root, which makes this plant very difficult to hand pull without a tool.




Large Leaf Privet berriesSmall leaf Privet with thousands of berries


     Ligustrum lucidum &

     Ligustrum sinense

Control and Removal Methods


You might have a privet or two down the backyard - they often grow along fence lines and in neglected corners. Sometimes there’s a big bushy clump where a tree was cut down, only to have regrown as a many-stemmed shrub. Seedlings come up in the garden too - usually as a single stem bearing along its length those noticeable opposite leaves.

Large leaf Privet weedy bush Small leaf Privet weedy infestation

Large-leaf Privet as a small tree and thicket of Small-leaf Privet


If you’ve had some confusion about this well-known woody weed, it could be because there are two types: Small-leafed Privet (Ligustrum sinense) and Large-leafed Privet (Ligustrum lucidum), both growing to large shrubs or small trees, and both priority weeds.

The leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stems, being dark green on the upper surface and paler on the underside. They are up to 12 cm long on Large-leafed Privet and up to 7 cm long with wavy edges on Small-leafed Privet.

Large leaf Privet with unripe berriesLarge Leaf Privet berries

Large-leafed Privet with berries

Small-leaf Privet weed with flowers and berriesSmall leaf Privet with thousands of berries

Small-leaf Privet flowers, leaves and berries

Privet is most noticeable at flowering time when the air is heavy with that sickly-sweet scent that some of us find unpleasant to say the least. This occurs in spring (Small-leafed) and summer (Large-leafed). The flowering heads consist of numerous small white flowers and are followed by dense clusters of purplish-black berries in winter.

Privet was first brought to Australia as a hedging plant. But when hedges were left unclipped and allowed to fruit, it was party time for the birds (particularly Currawongs) who dispersed the seed which readily germinates in this warm, moist climate. In the bush, Privet established to form thickets which crowded native bush plants.

Control & Removal Methods

Just pull out the small plants at seedling stage and up to a metre or so. If any roots snap off the Small-leafed Privet, get them out as they will regrow.

For larger plants you’ll need to dig, levering them out with a mattock and digging out the broken roots.

Or else poison them by lopping or sawing close to the ground level and immediately painting the stump with glyphosate herbicide.

There are many suitable local native shrubs and trees to grow in its place, once your Privet is gone.




Balloon Vine with flowers and fruit

     Balloon Vine

     Cardiospermum grandiflorum


Control and Removal Methods

Balloon-Vine-growing over-creek

If suddenly you notice your garden or the bush draped in a light green cloak, pretty yet smothering, chances are you have the weed Balloon Vine. If not controlled it will spread to cover trees, fences and garden sheds.


When young, the plants are seen heading skywards, perhaps up trees or just into thin air, or trailing on the ground; when older, hanging in cascades of hemp-like stems. Seedlings appear as a miniature forest of delicate green, the taller plants beginning to elongate.

The softly hairy light-green leaves are divided into leaflets with ragged edges. From the stem at the base of each leaf stalk coils a wiry tendril. The thin stems are green and covered in light brown hairs, while the thick older stems are greyish and rough to the touch.

The flowers in mid-summer are small and white. These develop into the surest identifying feature: pale, papery, balloon-like cases about 4cm diameter, each containing three black seeds.

Balloon Vine with flowers and fruit

Balloon Vine flowers and seed pods

Control & Removal Methods

Pull out seedlings and young plants and dig out the roots of mature vines. The vines up high will die when their stems are cut, and can be left. However if you prefer not to have dead drapery whilst the old vine breaks down, it can be pulled off without breaking your host plant by either getting up there and cutting it away, or pulling it like hauling in a fishing net, swinging the support tree (if it is supple) and pulling strongly and carefully as the tree swings towards you (and coiling the “rope”). Move to different sides of the tree as needs be, so not to pull branches back towards the trunk and break them.

Bin the seedcases. Cut up and compost the rest or put it out with Council’s Green Waste collection.




Close up showing hooked tendril

     Cat's Claw Creeper       *STATE PRIORITY WEED*

     Dolichandra unguis-cati

Control and Removal Methods


Able to withstand heavy shade or full sun, while being tolerant of frost, drought and saline conditions, Cat's Claw Creeper is a nasty character which sometimes springs up in gardens.

This vine was introduced into Australia from tropical America as a garden plant for screening trellises and walls. It has since escaped into bushland and is now declared a Weed of National Significance due to its devastating impact on native forests and waterways. Its climbing ability is second-to-none, thanks to its stiff curving tendrils or ‘cat's claws’.

Eradicate as soon as possible as it spreads rapidly and produces abundant seed which can further disperse this pest into the environment.


Cat's Claw Creeper is a perennial woody vine with many stems. It can climb over shrubs, trees and structures, reaching to 30m high, smothering trees and plants underneath. On the ground it can form a dense mat, suppressing any other plant growth. The stems are woody and can grow to 15cm thick. The leaves are usually found in pairs along with its most distinctive feature - a three-pronged tendril with stiff tips that form hooks (like cat’s claws). In spring the yellow trumpet-shaped flowers appear. Cat's Claw Creeper forms long pods which contain papery winged seeds.

Cat’s Claw Creeper has an extensive root system and numerous underground reproductive tubers, which can each grow up to 40cm long. This vine can also form roots along the nodes of the stem.

Tuber and leavesClose up showing hooked tendril

Roots start to develop tubers in their second year and plants may be well established before they start to flower. Note the typical 'cat's claw' tendril found between each pair of leaflets.

Control and Removal methods

Physical removal is feasible for seedlings or small plants, as long as the roots and tubers are completely removed. Start by gently tugging on the stem and removing any roots along the nodes. Arriving at the main root system, dig down to the first tuber which can grow quite long. Dig further around to check for secondary tubers and remove all that you find.

For more established vines, cut all climbing stems well above the ground (1–2 m high) and leave the aerial parts to die. Peel the lower stems off the host, cut again as close to the ground as possible and paint the cut surface immediately with a glyphosate herbicide. Chemical control should be done in spring to autumn while this plant is actively growing. Follow up is essential as stems and tubers may resprout. 




     Madeira Vine                 *STATE PRIORITY WEED*

     Anredera cordifolia


Control and Removal Methods


You may see it in bright green clumps growing on top of some tree, shrub or fence, smothering it, and later on in autumn, covered in long sprays of creamy flowers. Left alone, it will overpower any plant in its way. This vine is a Weed of National Significance and is considered one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.

Madeira Vine climbing treesClose up of Madeira Vine with flowers

Madeira Vine can easily climb into the tallest of trees and overwhelm the canopy. It has sprays of creamy white flowers.


Madeira Vine is a vigorously growing vine originating from the Amazon jungle. Often found twining up your fence or shrubs, it has a grey-brown stem tapering to pale green, with distinctive heart-shaped thick fleshy leaves. More mature vines have weird knobbly growths like small potatoes along its length.

Madeira Vine weed in trees Madeira Vine leaves and aerial tubers

Older plants produce aerial tubers along the stem, which can easily break off to start a new plant.

Control and Removal Methods

Control is easy if caught early. Each plant sprouts from a shallow underground tuber, and regrows from this or the easily broken off stem tubers which fall to the ground. So all below and above ground tubers need to be removed and disposed of in the garbage.

Whilst young and less than 1 metre in length, simply lift out the plant, easing out the tuber from the soil at its base. The underground tuber snaps readily, so be sure to get all bits. At this stage the stem tubers will not have developed.

Beyond this stage the plant is very quick growing and vigorous, with stem tubers growing rapidly. Once it has taken off like this, pulling the vine down from trees will knock its tubers to the ground where they’ll grow, so care must be taken: cutting and gently removing small sections at a time, and/or laying a sheet on the ground below to catch the tubers. By now the main underground tuber will have enlarged and will require careful digging to get it all. Be aware that the tubers can lie dormant in the soil for many years.



Weedy vine with flowers      Moth Vine

     Araujia sericifera


Control and Removal Methods


Seed pod of Moth Vine

If you have ever noticed a vine covered in choko-like fruit suddenly appearing in your yard, your garden has been invaded by Moth Vine. This long-lived vine twines vigorously around other plants and structures, quickly covering and smothering them. It prefers sun to semi-shade and moist soils and was originally introduced as a garden ornamental.

Moth Vine leaves and seeds are poisonous to people and animals. The milky latex sap can cause skin and eye irritation and in some cases it can cause breathing difficulties. 


This vine has dark green to greyish triangular to arrow-shaped leaves that are paler underneath. They are thick and leathery to touch and are found in pairs along a green stem. If cut, the stem releases a milky sap. Small creamy tubular flowers appear mostly in summer. The fruit is distinctive, large and egg to pear-shaped, with a ribbed skin, much like a choko. The fruits split open to release thousands of fluffy seeds that are readily spread by wind and water. They also attach to clothing and animal fur.

Leaves and flowers of Moth VineClose up of white Moth Vine flower

Moth vine stems are grey-green and become woody at the base. The flowers are not as noticeable as the large fruit pods.

Control and Removal methods

Use gloves when handling this weed. Any fruit is best removed before the seeds can be released. Carefully prune the fruit from the vine and place into a bag or bin.

Hand removal of this vine is the best option. Gently take hold of the stem and dig out any point where it has rooted into the ground. The main root can be dug out with a trowel or mattock, depending on the size, as it is generally shallow-rooted. If the roots are not able to be manually removed, you can scrape and paint the side of the stem with a glyphosate herbicide.



Close up of Morning Glory weed vineMorning Glory weed flowers and leaves

     Morning Glory

     Ipomoea indica &

     Ipomoea cairica

Control and Removal Methods


Originating in the tropics, this twining vine grows vigorously, especially in moist sheltered areas. Most often seen in neglected gardens and bushland edges, it smothers understorey plants and even large trees in its quest for light.

Morning Glory weed smothering other plantsClose up of leaves

As shown here, both Morning Glory species can overrun and smother other plants.


The stem is pale and hairy and climbs by twining around a support. Leaves are large and heart-shaped or lobed.

Morning Glory is most easily recognised by its large bluish-purple bell-shaped flowers seen from spring through summer and autumn. On related species, such as Coastal Morning Glory, the flowers may be white or pink.

Morning Glory rarely sets fruit in Sydney. Rather it relies on its vigorous growth habits to spread. It is transferred from garden to bushland by the dumping of off-cuts in garden waste.

Close up of Morning Glory weed vine Morning Glory weed flowers and leaves

Morning Glory has deep purple flowers and large leaves; Coastal Morning Glory has light purple flowers and deeply divided leaves with five to seven lobes.

Control and Removal Methods

Where there are large areas of either Morning Glory species (and no other plants you wish to retain) the leaves can be sprayed with glyphosate.

Alternatively, vines can be removed by hand by tracing each stem and teasing out the roots produced at each growth node. Where plants are well established a deep tap root may be present. This must be dug out, or if digging is too difficult, the root and stem can be scraped with a knife (do not sever the stem) and painted with glyphosate.

Vines up trees can be cut and left to die. After it is dead, the vine will quickly rot or you can gently pull vines from trees by working around the tree, taking care not to damage branches.

Morning Glory weed showing leaves Keep an eye out for bird nests or ring-tailed possum dreys amongst Morning Glory. Wait until bird nesting season is over before removing Morning Glory or leave the cut vines in place to die slowly allowing ring-tailed possums time to relocate.

Whether you spray or hand weed, any area where Morning Glory has been removed must be monitored monthly as any missed stem or root will reshoot and grow very quickly. You won’t get it first go; perseverance is the key.


Turkey-Rhubarb close up of seeds

     Turkey Rhubarb

     Acetosa sagittata


Control and Removal Methods


This exotic vine climbs all over other plants and scrambles across the ground. It is often found growing in old, neglected gardens and where people have been dumping garden rubbish. It favours disturbed, damp areas. It is particularly troublesome where it is growing in amongst rubble dumped on the edge of bushland.


Turkey Rhubarb has distinctly arrowhead-shaped, light green leaves. The stems have purplish ridges running along the length. The flowers form on the end of the stem and produce large clusters of three-winged capsules which are green to purplish at first, then turning papery and brown around a three-sided seed.

This weed produces tubers below the ground. Large tubers, up to 15 cm long, form near the base of the plant. From the top of these large tubers underground stems grow out, with more tubers growing on these stems. Turkey Rhubarb can regrow from the tubers or from the seed. Seedlings send down a taproot which quickly starts to swell to form a tuber.

Turkey Rhubarb weed with seeds Turkey-Rhubarb close up of seeds

Turkey Rhubarb leaves and unripe yellow seeds. Note the reddish stems. The seeds turn brown as they mature.


Control and Removal Methods

To remove the plant, firstly you will need to cut off any papery clusters containing the seeds. Then use a trowel or mattock to carefully lift the tuber at the base of the stem to locate those underground stems which run from the top of the tuber. Carefully scrape the soil away from these stems to locate the smaller tubers along the length so that these can be removed. All tubers and underground stems must be removed - these can be bagged and put out in the green waste collection.

Continue to check the area for some time as any mature plants will have dropped seed over the years and these will germinate readily in the disturbed soil. Any tubers that have been missed will also reshoot. It can be difficult to get out all the tubers at the one time if the soil is rocky or filled with rubble.

Acetosa weed close up of underground tubers

Underground tubers need to be dug out. Long-time infestations can have networks of connected tubers under the soil.



Asparagus Fern berries and leaves close up

     Asparagus Fern           *STATE PRIORITY WEED*

     Asparagus aethiopicus


Control and Removal Methods


Classified as a Weed of national Significance, the spread of Asparagus Fern threatens Australia’s biodiversity, including endangered coastal and forest ecosystems. This weed spreads into bushland from dumping or by invasion from adjoining gardens. If left the plant eventually forms a dense mat of tuberous roots which suppress the growth of native plants. It has long, prickly, arching stems which can grow up to 2 m long. The red berries drop off the long stems and ensure the plant’s constant survival and spread.


Asparagus Fern is a South African plant and not a fern at all, but is found in the Lily family. It is a dense scrambler with small whitish-pink flowers in late summer, followed by red berries in winter/early spring. These berries are very attractive to birds, particularly Currawongs, who help spread it far and wide.

Asparagus Fern weed with tiny white flowersAsparagus Fern berries and leaves close up

Asparagus Fern flowers and ripe red berries

Control and Removal Methods

The whole plant can be dug out with a mattock, or with a knife if it is a small plant. But probably the easiest method is to cut off the long stems (remember the plant is prickly, so wear thick gardening gloves) and place them in a bin or bag for the green waste collection, particularly if there is any fruit on them, whether green or red. Then, with a sharp knife, “crown it”, that is, cut around the woody root base removing the centre of the plant. The rhizomes and “bubbles” (water-like tubers, refer to photo below on left) can be left in the ground where they will eventually die.

The best time to remove the plant is at flowering time or before any fruit forms, then the long stems can be left to dry and later used as mulch. The “crown”  must be disposed of in the green waste collection along with any seedlings that can be removed whole. Remember to check the area every so often for any seedlings that have grown from dropped berries.

Asparagus Fern with root systemAsparagus Fern weed root system

A young plant with small 'crown' surrounded by pale tubers. The tubers are for storage and do not regrow but allow the plant to survive extended dry periods. The large woody corm or 'crown' of an established plant needs to be removed entirely or the plant will regrow.





     Asthma Weed, Sticky Weed

     Parietaria judaica


Control and Removal Methods


Asthma Weed arrived in Sydney by ship as seeds in clay clinging to Italian marble to be used for fireplace surrounds. Consequently, the weed is most common around the harbour foreshores and the old established suburbs.

It is often found growing thickly in and around rock walls and along footpaths. The plant is not very distinctive in appearance and is often hidden in amongst other plants. It is a small perennial herb growing about half a metre high, with pink-reddish stems. The leaves and small green flowers are covered in sticky hairs, attaching themselves readily to skin, clothing and pet fur. The seeds are spread either by being carried by people and pets or by being washed down hill.

Asthma-Weed.jpgClose up of flowers and stem

Asthma Weed has small green flowers found along the stem.


Asthma Weed is covered in fine hairs, which can irritate sensitive skin. As well, the fine pollen can irritate the lungs of people who suffer asthma. Asthma Weed produces large amounts of pollen in spring, summer and autumn. People sensitive to Asthma Weed may find that their skin itches, their nose becomes swollen and irritated and they may have difficulty breathing.

Control and Removal Methods

Wear gloves when handling Asthma Weed. The small seedlings can be pulled out easily and left to dry out and die in the sun. Mature plants require a strong garden tool to dig out the roots. If you try to pull out larger plants, the stems may break leaving the roots to regrow. Spray large areas of Asthma Weed with glyphosate and follow up by removing or spraying any seedlings for several months at least.

Asthma Weed is very invasive. Avoid spreading it to new areas.



Trad weed with white flower


     Tradescantia fluminensis


Control and Removal Methods


Once called Wandering Jew or Creeping Christian, Tradescantia (or Trad) has long brittle, succulent and trailing stems. The leaves are a shiny mid to dark green up to six centimetres long and have very well defined nodes. They often have a few fine hairs at the base. The small white star-like flowers form a cluster at the end of the stem.

Trad weed close up of stems and leavesTrad weed with white flower

This mat-forming weed prefers moist, shaded locations. The stems vary from green to pink-purple in colour.

Trad is from the Commelinaceae family and is in fact often confused with the native ground cover, Commelina cyanea, especially if they are growing together. However, the flowers of Commelina are bright blue, and the roots are thick and fleshy compared to the weed species. Another clue is their habitat. Commelina generally prefers fairly sunny positions and will not grow in deep shade like Trad does. The leaves of Commelina tend to be longer and narrower, whereas Trad has more crowded, slightly rounder leaves. It can be hard to distinguish, so if in doubt, wait for the flowers.

Creeping groundcover weed Trad with flowerCommelina native look-alike with blue flowers

Weedy Trad has white flowers, whereas the native Commelina has blue flowers.


Tradescantia, or Trad, comes from South America but it has become widely established in our Sydney bushland, especially through the dumping of garden refuse. This succulent herb grows very quickly and spreads over the ground forming a dense mat. As you may have noticed, it very effectively smothers all other small plants!

Little wonder it is such a fierce competitor when it will tolerate full sun, full shade, nutrient enriched soils and damp places. On top of all this, any tiny sections left lying on the ground will usually root at each node to carry on the fight!

Control and Removal Methods

Trying to remove this weed is tricky because the stem breaks so easily at the nodes. All parts of the plant must be removed by hand pulling or raking, and even when you’re sure you have them all, it’s worth checking again! On hard surfaces it may be rolled up like a carpet. Herbicide is not usually effective.

So don’t expect miracles straight away as it is very difficult to completely disengage Trad on your first attempt. Follow up weeding will be necessary, however it is well worth the effort!

Composting Trad is effective, or bag it and put it out for the Council’s Green Waste collection.



Close up of leaves


     Phyllostachys species


Control and Removal Methods


Thicket of Bamboo
Creeping Bamboo is an Asian ornamental species which can become a source of neighbour disputes when it spreads to adjacent properties.

Creeping Bamboo is used sometimes to define boundaries when in fact it is a plant that knows no boundaries in its growth habit. It is often chosen for its rapid vertical growth above ground by people blissfully unaware of its rampant horizontal growth below ground. It is undeterred by fences, brick walls, bitumen or concrete paving. It doesn’t stop for iron and fibro sheeting either.


Creeping Bamboo sends out tough horizontal rhizomes or “runners” that in warm weather rapidly send out vertical shoots and begin to clump. Once established the stems and rhizomes of the Creeping Bamboo occupy the total surface area of the ground. The bamboo produces a thick leaf mulch that allows nothing else to grow and often hides the creeping rhizomes spreading out just under the surface of the ground.

Close up of leaves Close up of root structure

Creeping Bamboo produces erect shoots from the entire length of its rhizomes (underground stems), resulting in many loosely clumped shoots over large areas.

Control and Removal Methods

The most effective way to remove Creeping Bamboo is to cut the shoots down low and then use a crowbar or mattock to dig out or lever up the rhizomes and roots. Alternatively cut the stems low and paint any new shoots when they are about 1 metre high with glyphosate herbicide - this may require a number of treatments over a period of time. The shoots and rhizomes can then be bundled up and put out for the green waste collection.

Do yourself a favour, maintain good relations with your neighbours and avoid a headache by using an alternative hedge plant or privacy screen. If you really must grow bamboo then get advice from a nursery about the less invasive species, keep it at least 3 metres away from any boundary and use an effective root barrier.