Biosecurity & North Sydney Weeds

Weeds in North Sydney Council LGA

In Sydney's northern region many bushland reserves are under threat because of the invasion of plants escaping from backyards and gardens. Common garden species can be spread by birds eating the seed or people tossing garden clippings into the bush. See the list on this page below.

Some exotic species are vigorous invaders, growing faster than native species and usually producing much more seed.

Once weeds take over an area the character of the bushland changes, diminishing habitat for native wildlife and altering fire regimes.

At the community level, Bushcare groups work with Council to eradicate high risk weed infestations and regenerate bushland with indigenous species.

However, weeds do not recognise local government boundaries and to this end North Sydney Council is a member of the Regional Weeds Committee (Sydney North), which coordinates a regional approach to weed management.


Biosecurity Weeds Declarations for North Sydney Council

Weeds in North Sydney are categorised according to their Biosecurity Risk and ability to spread from their existing and or intended location.

In North Sydney, Biosecurity Weeds (formerly referred to as Noxious Weeds) are categorised into 5 Risk Ratings which in-turn determine the control action required. Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, all individuals have a “Biosecurity Duty” and Local Councils are authorised to issue a "Biosecurity Directive" to the owner or occupier of a property where weeds are sighted/reported.

Where a property owner/occupier is issued with a biosecurity directive (ie. weed notice), they have a legal obligation to control the weed in the manner described by the risk rating. Weeds declared as a biosecurity risk may cause harm to human health, the environment or agriculture.


Biosecurity Weeds are placed into the following categories:

Risk Rating 1 - Very High Risk - Prohibited Weeds

The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant.

Risk Rating 2 - High Risk - Prohibited Weeds

The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant.

Risk Rating 3 - Medium Risk Controlled Weeds

The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.

Risk Rating 4 - Marginal Risk - Controlled Weeds

The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.

Risk Rating 5 - Low Risk - Restricted Plants

The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.


For the complete list of biosecurity weeds in our region, please refer to:

Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017-2022 Appendix 1 & 2 (6MB)



North Sydney Weeds

Alligator Weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides)

Description: Terrestrial or aquatic (floating or rooted emergent) perennial herb found in slow moving and stationary waters forming large mats of interwoven roots and stems
Flowers: Silvery white produced between January and March
Fruit / Seed: Produced but are rarely viable under Australian conditions
Dispersal: As new stems are produced, old stems lose their leaves and become prostrate, thickening the underlying mat of this vigorous creeper. Can seriously impair water flow. Dispersed by dumping and machinery
Origin: South America

Asparagus Fern (Protoasparagus aethiopicus)

Description: Multi-branched prostrate herb forming a dense mat of tuberous roots. Branches grow to 60cm with a covering of small spines.
Flowers: White -pink clusters, flowering in late summer.
Fruit / Seed: Red berry, occurring winter or early spring
Dispersal: Birds, dumping, rhizome growth
Origin: South Africa

Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum)

Description: Vigorous climber growing as high as can be supported. Has the ability to kill native plants by smothering, blocking out sunlight. Common in wet areas, especially along urban creeks.
Flowers: White, occurring in mid-summer
Fruit / Seed: Pale green balloon-like papery capsule enclosing 3 black seeds. Seeds are produced in autumn
Dispersal: By wind (while still attached to papery capsule) and water along adjacent creek-lines
Origin: Tropical Asia, Africa and America

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Description: Shrub with scrambling stems generally 2 to 3m high. The arching stems are green to reddish-purple and covered in prickles. The leaves are green in groups of 3 to 5, are dark green and often shed in winter.
Flowers: White or pink, flowering in spring to summer
Fruit / Seed: Black, aggregated berry occurring in late summer
Dispersal: Birds, foxes, re-rooting stems, dumping
Origin: Europe

Bitou Bush / Boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera)

Description: Shrub to 2m. There are two forms: a thicket forming coastal dune variety with rounded leaves: and an erect upright plant with coarsely toothed leaves.
Flowers: Golden yellow, daisy flowers appearing mostly in spring to early summer.
Fruit / Seed: The fruit is a purplish-black, bony berry occurring in clusters and ripening in summer, 6 to 8mm.
Dispersal: Birds
Origin: South Africa

Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata)

Description: Twining succulent climber and scrambler with bright green ivy shaped leaves. Small kidney shaped leaf structures occur at the base of the leaves. The stems can root at the nodes when in contact with the soil.
Flowers: Small yellow daisy-like clusters from winter to early spring
Fruit / Seed: Fluffy dandelion-like fruit, 1 to 2mm long
Dispersal: Wind, dumping
Origin: Africa

Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis)

Description: Tall shrub to 3m high common in waste areas. The stems are red tinged and the leaves are large and lobed.
Flowers: Reddish green, flowering in summer
Fruit / Seed: Reddish green, spiny fruit capsule occurring in autumn.
Dispersal: Seed explosion from capsule water
Origin: Africa

Cats Claw Creeper (Macfadyena unguis-cati)

Description: Vigorous woody climber with "claws" along stems and tubers under the ground. It is able to grow in shady areas and invade forest canopies.
Flowers: Large, tubular yellow flowers, 4 to 8cm long
Fruit / Seed: Long, thin capsule up to 45cm long containing winged seeds
Dispersal: Wind
Origin: Argentina and Brazil

Climbing Asparagus (Protasparagus plumosus)

Description: Wiry climber with feathery branches and spines along the stem. It has a woody underground rhizome and root tubers and is found in moist, shady environments.
Flowers: Small greenish white flowers, 5 to 7mm
Fruit / Seed: Black berry, 4 to 5mm
Dispersal: Birds and dumping
Origin: South Africa

Lantana (Lantana camara)

Description: Fast growing shrub with brittle climbing and scrambling branches, square stems wit short prickles and opposite hairy leaves with a distinctive smell.
Flowers: Red, pink or yellow, small clusters, flowering all year.
Fruit / Seed: Black berries, fruiting most heavily in summer
Dispersal: Birds, dumping, branches re-rooting at ground level
Origin: South America

Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia)

Description: Fleshy green perennial climber (up to 40m). Leaves are succulent and rounded. Found on fertile soils, disturbed sites and wastelands.
Flowers: Greenish-cream-white "lamb's tail" sprays occurring in autumn.
Fruit / Seed: No fruits are produced. Reproduction is entirely vegetative by the growth of aerial tubers along succulent stems. Madeira vine also has underground tubers that ensure survival after disturbance.
Dispersal: Aerial tubers fallen to the ground after disturbance will take root and sprout new leaves.
Origin: South America

Morning Glory (Ipmoea indica)

Description: Vigorous twining, herbaceous perennial climber wit heart shaped leaves and hairy stems. Has the ability to smother trees and under-storey vegetation. Common in moist, disturbed places.
Flowers: Distinct blue-violet, 5 to 8 cm in diameter occurring anytime in the year, particularly in warmer months.
Fruit / Seed: Does not seed in Australia
Dispersal: Dumping and growing from stem fragments, rooting at nodes.
Origin: Tropical regions

Ochna (Ochna serrulata)

Description: Hardy shrub to 2m high grown commonly as garden hedge. Shiny, fine tooth leaves. Removal is made difficult due to the extended taproot.
Flowers: Yellow, flowering in spring
Fruit / Seed: Crown of black berries surrounded by red "petals" occurring in autumn.
Dispersal: Birds, dumping of clippings
Origin: South Africa

Pampass Grass (Cortaderia selloana)

Description: Large long-lived perennial tussock over 2m high with numerous fluffy seedheads (up to 3m high) wit sharp cutting leaves. Common in open sunny places wit damp soils and on disturbed sites.
Flowers: White, pale pink or pale mauve occurring in summer.
Fruit Seed: Each plume produces up to 100,000 seeds in late summer or autumn.
Dispersal: Seeds are 2mm long allowing travel of up to 40 km on wind currents. Also dispersed along waterways.
Origin: South America

Pellitory / Sticky Weed / Asthma Weed (Parietaria judaica)

Description: Perennial herb to 60cm high commonly found in rock crevices and walls. The stem (reddish coloured) and leaves have fine hairs allowing the plant to stick to clothing.
Flowers: Small greenish, flowering all year.
Fruit / Seed: Dark brown-black seed enclosed in small nut, occurring in spring and autumn.
Dispersal: Wind, water, local re-rooting
Origin: Europe

Privet - Broad Leaf (Lugustrum lucidum)

Description: Very common tree, 4 to 10m found in moist, nutrient rich sites such as gullies. Large dark green leaves arranged opposite on the stem, paler underside.
Flowers: Small white strongly scented flowering in summer.
Fruit / Seed: Sprays of purple-black berries occurring in winter.
Dispersal: Birds, water
Origin: China

Privet - Small Leaf (Ligustrum sinense)

Description: Common tall multi-stemmed shrub to 3m high found in moist, nutrient rich areas. Leaves narrow, opposite often with wavy margins.
Flowers: Small, white, flowering in spring
Fruit / Seed: Dark purple-black berries occurring in winter
Dispersal: Birds, water
Origin: China

Rhizomatous Bamboo (Phyllostachys spp.)

Description: Woody plant to 6m high wit underground runners (rhizomes). Cultivated in ornamentals, they may become weeds in gardens, bushland and wasteland.
Flowers: Rarely appear (at intervals of over 100 years)
Fruit / Seed: Rarely appear (at intervals of over 100 years)
Dispersal: Produces erect shoots from rhizomes forming loosely clumped shoots over large areas, dumping
Origin: Asia

Rhus (Toxicodendron succedaneum)

Description: Shrub or small deciduous tree to 4m. Distinguished by compound leaves with 7 to 10 leaflets and a terminal leaflet, turning brilliant red in autumn. This plant can cause severe dermatitis and swelling of the face if any part of the plant makes skin contact (the sap causing the most severe reaction).
Flowers: Very small, creamy white, flowering in spring.
Fruit / Seed: Clusters of pale brown berries (5 to 7mm) turning papery upon ripening between May and September.
Dispersal: Birds
Origin: China, Japan, Himalayas

Salvinia (Salvinia molesta)

Description: Rapidly growing free floating, mat forming aquatic fern capable of covering still or slowly moving waterways. Its presence significantly reduces waterway values.
Flowers: Does not produce flowers
Fruit / Seed: Does not produce fruit
Dispersal: Reproduces vegetatively and is spread by dumping, animals, water movement, wind, boats and flooding.
Origin: South America

Scotch / English Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

Description: An erect shrub to 3m high with green to brownish green prominently ridged stems and small soft hairy leaves grouped in threes.
Flowers: Bright yellow pea flowers, sometimes with red markings, 2 to 2.5cm long occurring towards the extremities of branches, flowering from October to December.
Fruit / Seed: Brown or black flattened pod about 5cm long, coiling after seed release.
Dispersal: Seeds released explosively from the pods on hot summer days, machinery, mud
Origin: Western and central Europe

Turkey Rhubarb (Acetosa sagittate)

Description: Vigorous prostrate or climbing perennial herb to 5m long with underground tubers and arrow head shaped leaves. Found in damp disturbed areas.
Flowers: Flowers are cream, arranged in branching clusters in spring.
Fruit / Seed: 3-winged cream or brown paper-like structure to 1cm in summer or autumn.
Dispersal: Wind, Water
Origin: South Africa

Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis)

Description: A vigorously growing succulent, spreading groundcover with alternating dark, shiny leaves and weak roots at each node. It prefers moist, nutrient rich habitats.
Flowers: White flowers in terminal clusters appearing in spring and summer.
Fruit / Seed: Does not produce viable seed in Australia.
Dispersal: Can reproduce from a leaf or stem fragment dumped into bushland whereby broken pieces are transported along creeks.
Origin: South America

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