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Telegraph weed

Is this a new dunal weed?

Telegraph weed

The telegraph weed (Heterotheca grandiflora) is native to south-west America and northern Mexico where it forms dense colonies on the dunes on coastal areas. It’s very well adapted in sandy and well drained soils in subtropical areas. This weed is an annual plant that can grow up to 2m tall and has a small yellow daisy like flower, it grows quickly and is a prolific seed producer.

In Queensland it was discovered in the early 1990’s on the spit on the Gold Coast. In recent years the infestation has spread and is more common along coastal areas and on sand dunes. It is believed to be steadily moving in a northern direction due to south easterly winds and has recently been discovered on south Stradbroke Island. In 2005 the current infestation in Queensland covered an area of about 300 hectares and has the potential to spread to environmental significant areas including Fraser Island.

In Queensland it has already shown to form dense colonies on sand dunes which pose a threat to natural vegetation on the foredunes and the biodiversity on coastal plant communities. It also has the potential to impact on tourism as the species can be very unsightly when growing along beaches and can be difficult to pass through after its finished flowering.

Infestations can be controlled by herbicide use, however there is no information listed on its seed longevity. Telegraph weed is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014 and not only can it be dispersed by wind, it may be spread also by recreational uses so keep a look out in case it starts occurring on any of the local beaches on the Sunshine Coast.


Common namesTelegraph weed, heterotheca, sticky daisy
Flowering timeSpring to summer
Stem and leavesOne or more upright stems that branch towards top of plant with dense hairs. Alternatively arranged leaves 10-40mm long
Flowers and fruitsSmall daisy heads at the top of the branches, 15-22mm across, bright yellow
Reproduction and dispersalOnly reproduces by seed. Hairs on seeds assist in wind dispersal. Seeds also known to attach to clothing and animals