Common weeds in the Macedon Ranges

Weed identification

Weeds pose a serious threat to primary production and biodiversity in Victoria. In fact, weed invasion is ranked second only to habitat loss in causing biodiversity decline, and weeds are estimated to cost Australian agriculture $4 billion annually due to yield losses and product contamination.

The identification of weed species is critical when selecting the best weed control methods for successful long-term eradication and a return to a healthy and productive natural environment. Visit Agriculture Victoria to see a list of State prohibited and priority weed species and appropriate weed control measures.

Council controls weeds on Council-managed roadsides and reserves across the shire as part of our Annual Weed Program.

Weeds of Central Victoria

Macedon Ranges, Mount Alexander and Mitchell Shire councils joined forces to produce a weeds of Central Victoria guide to assist in identifying and controlling weeds.

The guide provides colour photos of locally identified weed species along with suggested control techniques. It covers all types of weeds including woody weeds, herbs, bulbs, trees, wines and creepers and aquatic plants.

Hard copies of this guide, and other species brochures, can be requested by calling our Environment team on (03) 5422 0333.

Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Gorse (or Fuze) is a major weed in central Victoria. It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts. It has the potential to overtake large areas of farming land, reducing environmental quality and adding to extreme fire danger.

Gorse is a dense, extremely spiny shrub up to 7m tall, but more commonly 1 to 2.5m tall. Stems are woody turning brown at maturity with numerous spines and narrow spine-like green leaves. Gorse bears fragrant yellow pea like flowers in July to October and March to May.

Tips for control

Gorse is a prolific seeder with up to 6 million seeds per plant that can remain viable for 25 years. Integrated methods need long term control. It is best to use chemical control whilst the plant is actively growing.

All control programs require several years of follow-up treatments and many years of vigilance, which may increase the cost several-fold.

Visit the Victorian Gorse Taskforce for more information, or view their Gorse Practice Guide.

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.)

Blackberry is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.

Blackberry has invaded riverbanks, roadsides, pastures, orchards, plantations, forests and bushland throughout temperate Australia. On farms, blackberries reduce pasture production, restrict access to water and land, and provide food and shelter for pest animals such as foxes.

Chemical control is best between flowering and leaf fall (look for new growth on the tips of canes). Always display a sign after spraying fruit to notify potential berry pickers and avoid spraying fruiting blackberries which have potential to poison native finches that feed on the fruits.

Blackberry control on roadsides and reserves

Blackberries are widespread in the Macedon Ranges and are regularly found on roadsides and private property. Successful control requires a combined effort of public and private landowners.

The Victorian Government can assist private landholders with blackberry control and weed legislation information. The Weeds of National Significance database also offers online resources such as weed control manuals and distribution maps.

The use of herbicide to control blackberries requires an Agricultural Chemical User Permit.

Find out more about organic and chemical weed control.

Picking blackberries on roadsides

Blackberries and other fruits should never be picked from roadsides for eating purposes. Vegetation along our roadsides may have been sprayed with herbicide and may not be safe for consumption.

We require all weed contractors to place signage in areas where weed spraying has been carried out during the fruiting season, however, Council and contractors cannot prevent the unauthorised removal of these signs.

Grassy weeds

Several introduced grass species are beginning to show up in areas of the Macedon Ranges. These grasses can have a devastating impact on biodiversity and agricultural land. Many of these species are not palatable for livestock, and large infestations can greatly reduce stocking rates of land.

Major problem grassy weeds include:

  • Serrated Tussock (Nassella trichotoma) - A densely tufted perennial grass growing up to 50cm high. Serrated Tussock resembles many native tussock grass species and therefore it is recommended that samples are identified prior to treatment. Flowers in spring to early summer. Seed set occurs late spring to early summer.
  • Chilean Needle Grass (Nassella neesiana) - Perennial grass with tussock base. Best identified when flowering during November to February. It is distinguished from native spear grass by the presence of a raised collar or corona between the seed head and seed tail. Chilean Needle Grass is a new and emerging weed that is becoming a problem through the region.
  • Texan Needle Grass (Nassella leucotricha) - A perennial tussock, forming dense clumps to 1m high. Distinguished from native spear grasses by a raised collar encircling the tail of the seed. Texas Needle Grass spreads by seeds, which are produced abundantly in stalked panicles and become attached to animals, vehicles and clothing. 

It is important to identify the differences between native grasses, which are beneficial, and introduced weed species. For help identifying and dealing with these weeds, use our Guide to the Weeds of Central Victoria(PDF, 4MB).

Other Common Weeds

Briar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa)

Briar Rose, also known as Wild Rose and Sweet Briar Rose, is an erect perennial shrub up to 3m in height. Pink or white flowers are present from October to December, giving the plant a rose like appearance. When seeds are ripe the hips are orange to red to almost black. Seed is shed in autumn.

Cape Broom (Genista monspessulana) and English Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

Broom are slender shrubs that grow to approximately 3 m in height with woody stems. They have yellow pea like flowers sometimes with redish markings. English Broom is almost leafless while in flower. Broom is a prolific seeder and will quickly regenerate after larger infestations have been removed. For this reason, it is essential to undertake pasture improvement and revegetation with native species to outcompete emerging Broom seedlings. Where this is not appropriate, spot spraying and manual removal of new seedlings should be undertaken.

Willows (Salix spp.)

Most species of willow are a weed of national significance. They are a large, invasive deciduous tree that tends to populate water courses. Willows invade riverbanks and wetlands with their extensive root systems where they impact water flow.

Large plants are treated by stem injection well in advance to lopping. Follow up control is required. Seedlings can be pulled out by hand.