Weed of the Month: January 2014

ONION WEED

(Asphodelus fistulosus)

        

(Photos: http://vro.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vroimages.nsf/Images/weeds_onion_weed_plant/$File/onion_weed_sa.jpg, http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porrassina )         

The numbers of this weed have been increasing over spring-early summer on the verges of Flinders Drive, towards the ferry terminal. Several of our volunteers have removed heaps near the bench seat and traffic sign. The plant grows to shin high, and is easily identified: the leaves have the same round, hollow, fleshy look of normal onions. However, it doesn’t produce a bulb like a ‘normal’ onion, because it isn’t really an onion. The flower stems produce star-shaped flowers (white with a stripe of reddish-brown), along the length of the stem. These are followed by berry-shaped fruit containing numerous seeds, thought to be viable for years. The plant can proliferate in disturbed agricultural land as well as on the road verges, and have a preference for drier regions. For small outbreaks, remove flowering stalks and seed heads, and dispose of carefully. The remainder of the plant can be dug up with its roots, and turned upside down to dry out and die. Large outbreaks are much harder to deal with, so be vigilant!

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