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Old man’s beard

Old man’s beard

Updated 5 May 2020 4:15pm

Beautiful to the eye, but noxious in nature, old man’s beard is a weed that plagues many gardens.  

Credit: Weedbusters

'Old man’s beard is an environmental weed that can spread rapidly and prevent the establishment of native seedlings. If everyone does their bit to keep their neighbourhood free of Old man’s beard, we could see the reduction of its distribution in the Wellington region.'

Katrina Merrifield, Biosecurity Advisor at GWRC.

Why is it bad?

Old man’s beard is a threat to native species. It prevents the growth of seedlings and development of established plants, spreads quickly, and can strangle the lowest shrubs to the highest canopies.

Old man’s beard grows in most soil types and flourishes in almost any climate. It is an extremely hardy and particularly difficult plant to eliminate. Wind carries its seeds so it can disperse over large areas fast, and if large roots are left behind, they may continue to grow.

How to tackle it

It is an ongoing challenge for councils to keep up with old man’s beard because it grows rapidly. We need every helping hand to keep this plant under control.

We control old man's beard in our region's Key Native Ecosystems to protect each site's unique plants and animals. You can control this pest on your property with these methods:

  • Remove seedlings – roots and all
    Small plants can be pulled out by hand. Trace the vines back to the roots and remove any large root fragments, as these can re-sprout. It is a shallow rooted plant, so just loosen the dirt with a fork or spade to remove it. 
  • Poison roots you can’t pull out
    Use herbicide gel to poison larger root fragments left in the ground. See Weedbusters for advice. Be sure to closely follow all label instructions.
  • Dispose of all fragments
    Dry them out in a garden bag. This will stop stems making contact with the ground and growing new roots
    Burn them
    Take all fragments to a refuse station. Find your local one here.
  • Manage large patches with spray
    Slash thick stems at ground level and paint stumps with recommended herbicide. The best option for your home garden is to spray with glyphosate (20ml/L) in spring to autumn.
    If you are dealing with large infestations see Weedbusters for advice on the options for herbicides. Be sure to follow all label instructions.

How to stop it coming back

Once the area is fully clear, plant and mulch to minimise regrowth and support local biodiversity – the plants and animals that naturally occur in the area.

If herbicides have been used, read the label for information about when to replant.

Check for regrowth at least every 4 months and continue to clear and spray if needed.

More information