Here are some weeds regularly found along Merri Creek. Handweeding is a wonderful thing to do and helps to keep invasive weeds in check.
If you’d like to help out, here are a few things to note:
* Only pull out species you can confidently identify.
* If in doubt - leave it. Don’t work in areas where herbicide has recently been used (there will be temporary signage).
* Leave weeds off the side of the path or take them home to your green bin.
* Some weeds are edible - be sure of their ID, wash them well, and don’t pick from areas where herbicide has been recently sprayed.
For more information on local weeds:
Grasslands - download the free app and learn about the unique biodiversity of south-eastern Australia’s endangered temperate native grasslands. It contains information on the grassland communities, localities where you can experience them and a comprehensive field guide with images of the plant and animal species that live in them.
Malva parviflora - Small-flowered mallow
Habit: An erect or sprawling herb up to 1 m tall
Flowers: Small short-petalled white to pale mauve flowers on individual stalks in leaf axils Look for: alternately arranged, roundish, lobed leaves with scalloped margins and spoke-like veins
Interesting facts: edible Leaves are a spinach substitute while leaf extracts have anti-inflammatory properties
Galium aparine - Cleavers, or bedstraw
Not to be confused with Clematis Microphylla - if it isn't sticky and adhering to your clothes - it isn't Galium!
Origin: Native to Europe and western Asia.
Habit: Trailing, sticky stems that are rough to the touch - can grow up to 2m long and form a smothering mat over nearby plants
Flowers: tiny white flowers, on tips of side shoots that develop into seeds in round burrs that get stuck in your socks or dogs fur
Weeding tips: roll or bundle Galium stems into a ball which helps to remove it from the plants it is smothering and then trace it back to a single thin stem and pull that from the ground Interesting fact: It is said that Velcro was invented after studying this plant. Galium is edible, and the seeds can be roasted for a coffee substitute.
Fumaria capreolata - Fumitory
Origin: Africa, Europe, West Asia.
Habit: An annual, that grows from seed, it grows in trailing clumps over and around other plants, potentially smothering them.
Flowers: white purple tipped flowers aging to pink. Flowers in spring.
Weeding tips: try to minimise soil disturbance so seed has reduced opportunity to set.
Interesting facts: the seed can still be viable for up to 20 years.
Solanum nigrum - Black nightshade
Origin: Africa, Europe and Asia
Habit: grows into a bushy plant, up to 1.25m tall.
Flowers: small star shaped flowers, white tinged with purple and a central yellow cone. Berries form after flowering, and can be toxic - safest to avoid any eating. Spreads by seed from berries eaten by birds and other animals.
Interesting fact: An environmental weed in Victoria and other states
Sonchus oleraceus - Smooth Sow thistle
Family : Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
Origin: Native to Europe and south-western Asia
Habit: Annual or biennial herb to 1.8 m high often with hollow stems that produce a white latex when damaged. Leaves are soft, thin, moderately to deeply lobed and dull grey green in colour.
Flowers: Yellow daisy flowers producing light seeds with white parachutes of silky hairs.
Interesting fact: It's not as prickly as Rough Sow Thistle (Sonchus asper) and therefore easier to pull out without gloves.
Plantago lanceolata - Lambs tongue/plantain
Origin: Europe and Asia
Habit: is a perennial rosette forming clump with long, narrow leaves ending in a tapered point. The leaf blades have parallel veins running the length of the leaf.
Flowers: Tiny creamy white flowers shooting from seed head - a dense spike produced on a stalk that rises up to 45 cm from the ground. Flowering from mid spring through summer and produces many seeds, spread by wind and water run-off.
Interesting facts: can be used in herbal teas and remedies.
NOTE: There is also a native plantain, almost indistinguishable from this one, except when it flowers. So best to leave this in the ground until spring, when it will be easier to identify.
Stellaria media - Chickweed, Starwort
Habit: annual plant, spreads in clumps from slender stems.
Flowers: tiny white flowers at the end of stems. Self seeds readily.
Interesting facts: reputed to help remove freckles. It is an edible weed, and also good food for chooks and other birds.
Allium triquetrum - onion weed - three cornered onion weed.
If you are looking for a weed to pull out along Merri Creek - onion weed is flowering now. If unsure - leaves have a strong onion smell.
It is quite easy to pull out - best to find a patch away from the path if possible - take home for your green bin if possible, or leave in a pile off the path.
Or here is some info on eating it and other edible weeds.
More info on plant and weed status.
Brassica fruticulosa - Twiggy turnip - Mediterranean cabbage
Origin: Mediterranean, North Africa.
Habit: Up to 50cm tall, upright stem with leaves on the base.
Flowers: yellow flowers most of the year.
Interesting facts: smells like cabbage
Image: Jon Sullivan, CC X 4.0