Friday, April 8, 2016

Weedy wonderland

If they ever discover life on Mars, I would not be at all surprised if it turns out to be onion weed. That stuff is indestructible. However, I am not waking up my slumbering gardening blog to moan about onion weed. No, I have a completely different weed to moan about. 

MAJOR EDIT: See the comments below, as it seems I have mis-identified this weed based on a mistake in a book that I relied on when I originally wrote this post in 2016. In my editing I am deleting quite a bit of content, but I do hope the new identification is useful to you. Thanks to Helensburgh Landcare for setting me straight.

Its common name is Phyllanthus tenellus. Here's a few photos of the evil weed in action.

This second snap is more like it. You rarely see one of these things on its own. Usually they come up in numbers, like this.

Fortunately, when small they are very easy to pull out of the ground. That isn't the problem — it's just the sheer numbers of them, everywhere.


Anonymous said...

At last I have a name for these awful weeds. I just can't seem to get on top of these things and this year in particular they are springing up all over the place. Plus they grow at such an alarming rate, almost as if they are on steroids! Even the chickens won't touch them.

Crooked Cottage said...

I have the same problem here in Rozelle - I can't keep on top of the horrible things. For some reason I thought it had a totally different name but glad to know the correct terminology, now I just need to find out a failsafe way to get rid of them!

Jamie said...

In addition to the comments here, a few readers who get my blog via email have also replied to me saying the same thing about these weeds being really bad this year, so it's a Sydney-wide problem, at the very least. I suspect the recent hot weather plus the rain must really suit these plants, and this is their year for a "bumper early autumn crop".

At least they are easy to pull out of the ground, and so all I plan to do is wait for a nice, cool, proper autumn day and then go and pull out every one of the things I can find. I know that won't get rid of them, but I'm hoping that pulling up lots of them, mulching, plus the winter chills, might cut back their numbers.

KL said...

Can you eat the plant? Or the berries? That's the use I've found of my weeds. now in Australia? Shouldn't it be cooling down now as you guys are moving into winter as we come out of it? Or has the weather all over the world has gone topsy-turvy?

Jamie said...


No, it's not edible. And as for the weather we have had our warmest autumn for many many years. And last week Sydney had a maximum of 34°C (93°F) which is the all-time record for an April day. Today is more like autumn, cooling down, but the weeds are loving this weather.

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

I didn't know what this weed was either! Thanks Jamie. My front garden is full of this weed too! And yes, Sydneys ongoing warm weather has been perfect conditions for weeds.

HelensburghLandcare said...

I'm sure the weed you are describing is Phyllanthus tenellus, not Breynia oblongifolia. That book has something to answer for, getting it wrong.