Status: Declared Noxious Weed (Regionally Controlled).
Threat: High threat environmental and agricultural weed.
Description: Erect annual or occasionally biennial herb up to 1.2 metres tall and covered with coarse hair. Bears a dense, one-sided spike of large purple flowers.
Establishes rapidly on disturbed ground. After flowering and seeding in spring/summer plants generally die off.
Flowers: Purple (sometimes white or pink), tubular-shaped flowers clustered at the end of multiple branches. The inflorescence is made up of densely crowded flowers along one side of branches that are coiled at the top and sometimes elongate with age. Flowers from July to December.
Leaves and stems: Initially starts as basal rosette from which several branching stems emerge in spring. Basal leaves broad, oval or oblong up to 25cm long and often have wavy margins. Basal leaves have prominent branching veins which run off the mid-vein. Stem leaves are alternate, smaller, hairy and clasp the stem. All leaves and stems are hairy and dull green.
Roots: Strong taproot with many lateral roots.
Note: Can dominate grazing land, annual pastures and bare ground. Crowds out more useful pasture species and can be toxic to stock, especially horses. Very rarely a problem in high quality, intact native vegetation, but can rapidly establish on disturbed ground in remnant grassland and grassy woodland sites.
Control measures: Hand weeding, spot spraying, slashing, pasture improvement, solarisation.
Dispersal: Birds, water.