SCABIOSA or PINCUSHION
(Photos,E. Cousins: young plant; clumps browning off, Cape Jervis)
This weed, originally from South Africa, is a real problem on our reserve at Cape Jervis. If in March you keep walking through stiff, crunchy dried clumping plants with the occasional purple flower, you are probably walking in a scabiosa patch! The scabiosa leaves are 5-9 cm long, and 1-2 cm wide, deeply lobed, and form a rosette at ground level, above a sturdy tap root. When flowering, the plants are about 60 cm tall at Cape Jervis, with flowers held above the basal rosette on long, spindly stems. They look a bit like daisies, and range in colour from white through pink and purple to dark red. The photo above of a flower not fully open shows a multitude of funnel-shaped petals. Flowers usually appear September to March, but you’ll see some most of the year around here. This weed spreads by seed, travelling by wind, water and on vehicles. Control when plants are immature, and before flowering, with herbicides or by hand pulling. Otherwise, you will end up with clumps browning off from February, leaving those stiff dead stems and many, many viable seed heads!