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Types of Weeds in Australia (Identification Guide with Pictures)

It’s important to identify your weeds properly so that you can treat them effectively.

Weeds are a problem for most Australian homeowners. They grow in your lawn, they can choke out flowers, and they make it harder for your plants to get the nutrients they need from the soil.

There are many weeds in Australia that we have to deal with in our lawns and gardens. Here is a list of the more common ones along with some tips for getting them under control.

Bindii (Soliva sessilis)

soliva sessilis 2 | Weed control
Soliva sessilis (bindi) / Photo by Josep Gesti / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 4.0

This weed is commonly found in lawns around Australia. It’s a broadleaf weed that has carrot-like leaves and forms a rosette.

After flowering, the weed produces a seed capsule that has spurs. This is prickly and quite painful to walk on. 

This means that walking barefoot on a lawn that has bindii is almost impossible.

How to control Bindii

soliva sessilis 3 | Weed control
Soliva sessilis (bindi) / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

The best way to get rid of bindii from your lawn is to use this product from Amgrow, or another broadleaf herbicide, especially in autumn and winter.

Dandelion (Taraxacum)

Dandelion | Weed control
Dandelion / Photo by Steffen Hammel / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

There is much controversy around dandelion being a weed as it does have some very useful characteristics and can even be used as a herbal remedy or to make tea.

However, it’s not ideal in your lawn.

Dandelion is an opportunistic plant that will especially grow in poor soil and bare patches of ground.

It has deeply-notched leaves and produces a bright buttercup yellow flower. The fluffy seed heads are easily dispersed by wind.

How to control Dandelion

Because dandelions produce a very long tap root, they can be difficult to remove by hand.

Therefore, the most effective way to control them is to use a broadleaf herbicide. If you would prefer to use a selective weed killer, this product from Amgrow is also effective against dandelion.

Spurge (Euphorbia)

Euphorbia spurge | Weed control
Euphorbia / Photo by Sukkoria / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Spurge is an aggressive weed that forms a dense mat over the ground or in parts of your lawn.

It has long stems or runners with opposite leaves that have dark spots on them. 

This weed is particularly common in hot and dry regions and thrives in compacted soils. It seeds prolifically and has a long tap root.

How to control Spurge

Euphorbia hyberna spurge | Weed control
Euphorbia hyberna / Photo by jacinta lluch valero / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Although this weed can be removed by hand, if any part of the tap root remains in the soil, it will come back.

Therefore, a broadleaf herbicide is recommended for its eradication.

Oxalis

| Weed control
Oxalis / Photo by Zachi Evenor / Flickr / CC BY-SA 4.0

Oxalis is the bane of many gardeners including me. It can be extremely difficult to eradicate completely.

This weed has yellow flowers and clover-like leaves. It multiplies through underground rhizomes and bulbs. 

This means that even if you pull it, and this is quite easy, there will still be many bulbs left in the soil that will continue to grow.

Mostly, you’ll find this weed growing in garden beds but it will also grow in your lawn.

How to control Oxalis

The most effective way to eliminate oxalis from your garden is to use a pre-emergent herbicide as pulling it out by hand will not get rid of it completely. This selective herbicide from Amgrow is also effective against oxalis.

Purslane or Portulaca

Portulaca oleracea | Weed control
Portulaca oleracea / Photo by Robert Flogaus-Faust / Wikimedia / CC BY 4.0

These weeds are succulents that can form a very dense mat over the soil. They have brown or pink runners that can spread quickly. The tiny bright green leaves grow along these runners. 

Once they start to grow, these weeds seed prolifically and will easily spread around your lawn and garden.

How to control Purslane or Portulaca

Although it’s quite easy to pull these weeds by hand, you have to be careful not to allow the seeds to drop back into the soil.

The most effective way to get rid of these weeds is to use a spot treatment with a non-selective herbicide such as Roundup.

Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus)

Cyperus rotundus nutgrass | Weed control
Nutgrass / Photo by Arria Belli / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Nutgrass is another weed that is quite difficult to control. It has narrow grass-like leaves that are glossy.

It also produces triangular stems with tight seed heads that can be reddish-brown in colour. 

This is another weed that spreads by underground rhizomes and will easily take over your lawn if left untreated.

How to control Nutgrass

Being a grass-like weed, a broadleaf herbicide will not kill it. Therefore, spot treatment with a non-selective herbicide would be most effective.

You could also use a pre-emergent herbicide if this weed is growing in your lawn.

Onion Weed (Allium triquetrum)

Allium triquetrum 1 | Weed control
Allium triquetrum / Photo by Ewen Cameron (cropped) / Auckland Museum, Wikimedia / CC BY 4.0

This is another grassy weed that has long strappy leaves. These smell like onions when they’re crushed.

Onion weed will produce flowers in spring. These weeds are normally white in colour and appear on tall stems.

How to control Onion Weed

Spot treating onion grass with a non-selective herbicide is the most effective way to get rid of this weed.

Asthma Weed (Parietaria judaica)

Parietaria judaica | Weed control
Parietaria judaica / Photo by pixeltoo / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This is a low-growing weed that has roundish hairy leaves. These leaves grow on short branches and are sticky to the touch.

The small green flowers are filled with pollen. That’s why this weed can be responsible for triggering asthma attacks and hay fever.

How to control Asthma Weed

Parietaria judaica 2 | Weed control
Parietaria judaica / Photo by Franco Folini / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Spot treatment with a glyphosate-based herbicide works well on these weeds, especially when applied before the weed flowers.

It’s also possible to pull this weed by hand while it’s still young and before it’s had a chance to flower.

Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula)

Arctotheca calendula Capeweed | Weed control
Arctotheca calendula / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

This flatweed is common in lawns. It produces a rosette of heavily serrated leaves and a bright yellow flower with a dark centre on short stems. 

How to control Capeweed

Arctotheca calendula | Weed control
Arctotheca calendula / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Capeweed can easily be controlled by using a weeding tool to dig it out.

If your lawn is heavily infested with this weed, a broadleaf herbicide can be used to control it.

Or, you can spot treat with a glyphosate-based product if you’re careful to not get any of the product on the grass.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Stellaria media 2 | Weed control
Stellaria media / Photo by Ursus sapien / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

This is another spreading weed that has small, bright green leaves and tiny white flowers.

It can spread easily through seed dispersal and is more common in winter and spring.

How to control Chickweed

Stellaria media | Weed control
Stellaria media / Photo by Quentin Scouflaire / CC BY 4.0

If you don’t mind a bit of hand weeding, this weed can easily be pulled up. It can even be fed to your chooks if you have any.

Otherwise, you should spot treat with a glyphosate-based herbicide.

Paspalum (Paspalum dilatatum)

Paspalum dilatatum 1 | Weed control
Paspalum dilatatum / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Paspalum is one of those pesky lawn weeds that can be hard to get rid of unless you’re persistent in controlling it.

Paspalum is a grass with a fairly broad leaf and can easily blend in with the rest of your lawn. However, it does tend to stand out when it produces its easily-identifiable seed heads.

How to control Paspalum

Paspalum dilatatum 2 | Weed control
Paspalum dilatatum / Photo by harum.koh / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you only notice a small infestation of paspalum in your lawn, you can easily remove it by hand. Just use a sharp knife or weeding tool and cut it or dig it out.

Make sure that you cut the stem below the soil level as this should prevent it from growing back.

If you have a more sizable infestation, you might need to use a herbicide to get rid of it. The type of herbicide you can use will depend on the variety of turf you have.

Clover (Trifolium repens)

green 1 | Weed control

Clover is a common broadleaf weed that can appear in various locations around your lawn.

While it can be a nuisance, clover also has many benefits, so you may want to think about whether you should remove it at all.

Clover helps maintain soil moisture, suppresses other weeds, and attracts beneficial insects like bees.

How to control Clover

Clover thrives in low-nitrogen environments, so increasing nitrogen levels is usually the first port of call. You can do this using a lawn fertiliser that is high in nitrogen.

This will increase the fertility of your soil and promote better growth for your turf.

Tradescantia albiflora

Tradescantia | Weed control
Tradescantia / Photo by thor そらみみ / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

This creeping weed can spread quite prolifically mainly across areas of bare soil. It has fleshy stems and narrow shiny green leaves. The weed will also produce white flowers. 

It prefers shadier spots in your garden and can cause skin irritations, especially in dogs.

How to control Tradescantia albiflora

The best way to control this weed is to dig it out, making sure that you get all the underground rhizomes. You have to be quite persistent and keep pulling it up when it starts to regrow.

I’ve been able to almost completely get rid of Tradescantia albiflora in one part of my garden that was completely blanketed. I just kept digging it up and now only a few small weeds will crop up here and there.

Make sure that you put these weeds in the rubbish and don’t add them to your compost.

Couch grass

Couch Grass | Weed control
Couch grass / Photo by John Tann / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

Couch grass is one of those weeds that seem to invade your garden and keep coming up no matter what you do. It can be quite challenging to get rid of completely because it’s tough and the underground runners can spread quite rapidly.

Couch grass, or Twitch grass, has a fine leaf blade, is dark green in colour, and is soft to the touch. When you look closely at the leaf blades, you’ll see that they’re quite long and slender. 

You’ll find that the runners that spread across the ground can easily grow up to 20 cm per week. These runners will develop along the main stem at leaf nodes.

How to control Couch grass

The best way to control couch grass naturally is to cover it completely so that it doesn’t get any sunlight to grow. You can do this with either a landscape fabric or a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper.

The absolute best herbicide to kill couch grass is a glyphosate-based product such as Roundup. This is a non-selective herbicide so it will kill any other growth that it comes in contact with. Therefore, you want to apply it carefully with a tool like the Yates Zero Weeding Brush.

Burr medic

Medicago polymorpha flower | Weed control
Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha) / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Burr medic is a leading cause of lawn prickles. This common lawn weed has serrated green leaves that grow together in groups of three. The creeping stems can be reddish in colour.

It produces small pea-sized flowers that are usually yellow in colour. 

Burr Medic Medicago polymorpha | Weed control
Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha) / Photo by John Tann / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

After flowering, the seed pods form as small green pods. These will dry out, become brown, and are prickly. The weed is spread through seed dispersal.

Medicago polymorpha fruit NC11 45869974984 | Weed control
Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha) / Photo by Macleay Grass Man / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Burr medic can look somewhat similar to clover and oxalis. The plant has quite a deep tap root which helps it to survive during periods of dry weather.

How to control burr medic

Burr Medic Medicago polymorpha 1 | Weed control
Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha) / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Burr medic is usually easily controlled by regular mowing. This effectively removes the flowers and seed heads or stops them from forming in the first place. 

This weed is also fairly easy to pull out by hand. However, you want to try and do this before the flowers and seed heads form. It’s a good idea to wear garden gloves when doing this.

If you have an out-of-control infestation of burr medic in your lawn, you can also kill it with an effective broadleaf herbicide.

Milk Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)

Sonchus oleraceus flower | Weed control
Sonchus oleraceus / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sonchus oleraceus has many common names including common sowthistle, sow thistle, hare’s colwort, milky tassel, milk thistle, and soft thistle.

Milk Thistle is an annual plant that grows up to 1.5m tall with leaves in rosettes as well as along the stems. It is a common invasive species whose seeds can be transported by water, wind and other means.

How to control Milk Thistle

Sonchus oleraceus | Weed control
Sonchus oleraceus / Photo by Arnim Littek / inaturalist / CC BY 4.0

Milk thistle can be controlled with manual weeding, especially if you’re able to remove the plant before it flowers. If removing plants with flowers, be very careful to not disperse the seeds.

For control of larger infestations of Milk Thistle, herbicides may be required.

Urban Bushland Council WA recommends spot spraying Lontrel (active ingredient: clopyralid) preferably at the rosette stage. They recommend applying the herbicide in the winter months for optimal treatment.

Flatweed, Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata)

Hypochaeris radicata | Weed control
Hypochaeris radicata / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Flatweed forms a flat rosette of green leaves around a central taproot, with tall stems topped by small yellow flowers.

Hypochaeris radicata rosette | Weed control
Hypochaeris radicata / Photo by Krzysztof Golik / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Flatweed has become known as false dandelion because people often mistake it for the true dandelion. Both plants have similar flowers and rosettes of leaves, but the stems differ.

How to control Flatweed

Hypochaeris radicata | Weed control
Hypochaeris radicata / Photo by Strobilomyces / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Flatweed can be removed by hand, or you can use a selective herbicide designed to eliminate them before they flower.

You can also use a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate, just don’t get any on your lawn or other plants.

Winter Grass (Poa Annua)

Winter Grass Poa Annua | Weed control
Poa Annua

Winter grass, or Poa Annua, is an annual weed that germinates in Autumn and dies during hot periods in Summer.

Although it sometimes only lives for a few months, winter grass spreads very easily because it produces abundant quantities of seed.

These small creamy white seeds are wind-blown, which means they can spread into your lawn from neighbouring properties.

Winter grass is a thin-blade weed that grows in clumps and is most noticeable when the lawn thins out.

How to control winter grass

Winter Grass Poa Annua 1 | Weed control
Poa Annua

Manual removal can be an effective option for small patches of the plant, but will quickly become tedious if the invasion has progressed beyond this point.

You also have the option of both post and pre-emergent herbicides.

Amgrow Winter Grass Killer is a popular post-emergent herbicide that contains the active ingredient Endothal.

Weed FAQ

What are the most common garden weeds in Australia?

There are numerous common garden weeds in Australia. These include bindii, oxalis, onion grass, nutgrass, purslane, spurge, capeweed, chickweed, and dandelion.

What are the worst weeds for a lawn?

The absolute worst weeds for lawns are bindii because these produce prickly seed heads that are painful to walk on. Other bad lawn weeds include nutgrass and other grassy weeds such as crabgrass and winter grass because a broadleaf herbicide will not eradicate these.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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