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Crofton Weed

Mistflower (L) & Crofton (R)

Crofton weed leaves & flowers

Crofton leaves

Crofton weed flowers

mistflower leaves

Mistflower flowers & fruits

Indian weed, native

Plectranthus parviflorus

Plectranthus graveolens

     



Family:
Asteraceae (daisies)

Status:

Crofton weed (Ageratina adenophora) is declared noxious in category 4 in Bega Valley LCA, where a few small outbreaks have occurred near Eden, Brown Mountain and Myrtle Mountain. Both it and the similar mistflower (Ageratina riparia) are noxious in category 4 in Shoalhaven LGA.

Description:
Branching perennial herb about 1m high. Crofton weed has leaves triangular to trowel-shaped, tapering abruptly to the leaf stalk, 5-8 cm long, on long stalks. Leaves are in opposite pairs and leaf margins are finely toothed. Flowers are small, fluffy and white, in branched terminal clusters. The first photo shows Crofton weed on the right and the very similar weed mistflower on the left.

Preferred habitat and impacts:
A weed of moist, warm situations such as creek banks, road verges on moist slopes, stormwater drains. Mostly confined to the northern part of the region, north from about Nowra. Much more common in northern NSW, where it also invades pasture. Sometimes used as a garden plant, and therefore naturalised around some towns in southern Australia.

Crofton weed can form dense stands in moist sites, choking out native vegetation. If it moves into run-down pasture, stock carrying capacity can be reduced. Seedlings are not very competitive in vigorous pasture. Crofton weed is toxic to horses and is fatal if consumed over a long period. Cattle avoid it, and other stock eat it without ill effect. Mistflower has also been shown to be toxic to some stock in laboratory trials.

Dispersal:
Tiny black or dark brown seed has a "parachute" of fine hairs, and is spread by wind and water, and in contaminated soil on vehicles and machinery, or on clothing. Broken off pieces may take root, and local spread occurs when branches trailing over the ground take root.

Look-alikes:

The weed mistflower (Ageratina riparia) has leaves which are similar, but taper more gradually into the leaf stalk, in more of a diamond shape (see first photo). Its white flowers are very similar to those of Crofton weed.  The native herb "Indian weed" (Sigesbeckia orientalis) has a similar habit and leaf shape, but leaves are more arrowhead shaped with backward-pointing lobes at the base, flowers are tiny and yellow, and enclosed by very sticky bracts.  Native cockspur flowers (Plectranthus parviflorus & P. graveolens) have similar shaped leaves to Crofton weed but the flowers are blue and in long spikes above the leaves. P. graveolens has thick, velvety-hairy leaves and tends to grow around rock outcrops.

Control:
Hand-pull or dig, or spray with non-selective or selective woody weed herbicide, when the plant is actively growing, but before flowering occurs. Monitor and control any regrowth.