What is mouse-ear hawkweed?
Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) is an invasive perennial herb in the daisy (Asteraceae) family. It is native to Europe and Asia but now occurs as a serious weed in New Zealand, Canada and USA.
Mouse-ear hawkweed grows close in a rosette pattern and the yellow flower head matures to release small wind-dispersed seeds. Mouse-ear hawkweed can also spread via the runners (stolons) that lie across the ground and can produce new rosettes that can form dense mats.
Other features of mouse-ear hawkweed include:
- a red stripe on the underside of petals
- leaves and stolons covered in long simple hairs
- leaf undersides that are lighter in colour and covered in felt-like hairs.
Why is mouse-ear hawkweed a problem?
All hawkweeds are listed as prohibited matter under the Biosecurity Act 2015 in NSW. The mouse-ear hawkweed is a major threat to south-east Australia. In New Zealand, it is considered the most invasive of the nine hawkweed species present there, significantly decreasing the number of species that the environment can support (carrying capacity) in pastoral areas of the South Island high country.
In relation to Australia, this weed species needs to be intensely managed as it has the potential to spread across a large area of south eastern Australia, including NSW, Vic, Tas and SA. Mouse-ear hawkweed is currently present in alpine areas, but has the potential to expand significantly beyond there, even under future climate scenarios. It is also allelopathic, meaning it prevents the germination and growth of other plants by producing biochemicals and secreting them in to the surrounding soil.
Whilst these infestations are small, there is the potential to eradicate this weed from the state. A dedicated team of NPWS staff and volunteers conduct surveys to identify sites where it has spread to, in order for it to be removed.
Managing mouse-ear hawkweed in our national parks
A small infestation of mouse-ear hawkweed was discovered in December 2014, near Charlottes Pass in the Main Range of Kosciuszko National Park. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has an active control-and-detection program under way to eradicate this threat. This is in addition to the orange hawkweed eradication program, which is active in another part of Kosciuszko National Park.
Mouse-ear hawkweed is also present in Victoria (Falls Creek), where the species is under eradication.
We use weed eradication dogs to help find and control both mouse-ear hawkweed and orange hawkweed.
How you can help and find out more
- Read our Hawkweed Alert (PDF 661KB) - developed to assist with the identification and reporting of mouse-ear and orange hawkweed
- Read the latest report on our control program
- Read about the recent 2017-18 Mouse-ear Hawkweed Volunteer Program (PDF 462KB).
For further information about future programs, please contact the NPWS Jindabyne office on 02 6450 5600 or NPWS Tumut office on 02 6947 7000 or NPWS Khancoban office on 02 6076 9373.
- View our Flickr gallery for images of staff carrying out mouse-ear hawkweed control activities in Kosciouszko National Park.