Weed identification resources
Environmental weeds can cause substantial damage to natural ecosystems, but it's not always easy to tell when a plant is a weed. If your garden seems to be 'going bush' or you've noticed a plant that seems out of place or that's dominating a natural habitat, you can use these resources to identify a weed and find out if it is a weed in your area.
Remember that Australian native plants can become weeds outside their native range too. Plants that are native to your area may be listed as weeds on websites from other parts of the world, so make sure you find out the native range of a plant before treating it as a weed.
As a starting point, many of these online resources have good quality photos and list plants by common and scientific names. You could also enter a plant name into your favourite internet search engine to find information or images.
- Researchers at the University of Queensland developed the key to Environmental Weeds of Australia. The interactive weed identification tool helps you easily identify a weed based on the features of a plant. The tool includes over 1000 current and potential weeds.
- The Identify a Weed webpage on the Weeds Australia website provides an interactive database of weed descriptions and photos that can be filtered by plant location and plant habit.
- The Flora of NSW is online and allows plant name searches and provides identification keys as per the printed Flora of NSW. Detailed botanical descriptions, photos and illustrations are provided for most native and introduced plant species.
- NSW WeedAlert allows you to search for new records or extensions of range for weeds in NSW.
- The environmental weeds section of the Australian National Botanic Garden website has details of 19 species including their ecology, impact information and some photos.
You can also often find photos and information on Australian environmental weeds on general gardening websites or other large image databases. Remember, some of these sites are from around the world, so they may describe native Australian plants as 'weeds'.
Many local councils and shires have Bushcare or weed officers who can help you identify weeds. Very often, they can advise you about weed control. See the local government directory for council contacts, or contact your regional weeds committee.
Your local NSW Department of Primary Industries (Agriculture) office can also assist you with weed identification and, possibly, control information.
If you have found a new or uncommon weed, make sure you inform your local council weed officer. You can also report noxious weeds to NSW Department of Primary Industries weeds hotline.
You can identify a weed at a herbarium, or have it positively identified by professional botanists (this may incur a fee). Provide a specimen of the weed with flowers or fruits, if possible. The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research provides detailed information on how to collect weed or plant specimens.
A pressed, dried plant specimen allows researchers to confirm the identity of the weed. Specimens stored in herbariums provide evidence of weed distribution over time and across regions, and help to document the spread of invasive weeds.
Books are also very helpful for weed identification and many are available at local libraries. Good resources include:
Page last updated: 21 September 2012