What is an environmental weed?

Would you know a weed if you saw one? Natives can be invasive weeds too!

What is an environmental weed?

Environmental weeds are plants that grow in environments where they are not wanted and in natural landscapes they can out-compete indigenous species. This affects the balance of the entire ecosystem by reducing biodiversity, taking away vital food sources and habitat for native insects, birdlife and fauna. Many of the plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years are now considered environmental weeds.

The integrity of most of Australia's vegetation communities have been affected by invasion of exotic species, resulting in an alteration to the structure, species composition and health of these plant communities.

In the natural landscape many environmental weeds grow unchecked as there is no control by predators or disease, as would exist in their native homeland. Therefore they are able to out-compete indigenous species for, nutrients, water and space.

Where do the weeds come from? Can native plants be weeds too? 

Many of our environmental weed species are garden escapees. However, not all of Australia's weeds have come from other countries as some Australian native plants can also become weeds.

This can occur when species move from within their natural habitat into new areas where they have a competitive advantage over indigenous plants, allowing them to become established.

How do environmental weeds spread?

Of the ten new weeds recorded in Australia each year, two-thirds are garden escapees. Seed is spread into the natural environment via wind, water, birds and animals or inappropriate disposal of garden waste.

What is the impact of environmental weeds? 

Weeds are threatening and damaging to the indigenous flora and fauna because they can alter the landscape character of the Australian environment and cause extinction of local plant species, reducing biodiversity and available habitat for our local wildlife species. 
How you can help:

When removing weeds from your garden, ensure you use the fortnightly green waste bins or drop the weeds at your local waste transfer station.

Take care not to spread the seeds of environmental weeds through compost or mulching. To do this make sure you do not leave weeds in garden compost bins as this will give the weed more opportunity to spread along the coast.

Consider planting an indigenous garden instead of using introduced species. Indigenous gardens help link patches of vegetation, creating vital habitat corridors in an urban landscape and allowing insects and animals to move between sites that would otherwise be isolated.

For more information on environmental weeds visit the Weeds Australia website.  

More information

Environmental weeds impact on our precious flora and fauna, such as these beautiful orchids.
Visit our coastal gardening page for more tips on keeping these nasties out of your garden and away from the coast.
Identify coastal invaders in your gardenn by visiting our weeds gallery.
Download: Environmental Weeds: Invaders of our Surf Coast.