What is a Weed?

If you are anything like me you thought you could cope with the weeding during winter but it suddenly spirals out of control during Spring. This seems to happen every year and I am never sufficiently prepared for the inundation. So what can we do to prepare and what are the best methods for dealing with your weeds?

What is a weed?

It may be helpful to consider what we consider as weeds or invasive plants – the Australian Government’s Environment Department (EPA) defines weeds as: “any plant that requires some form of action to reduce its effect on the economy, the environment, human health and amenity.”

Weeds are often excellent at surviving and reproducing in disturbed environments and are commonly the first species to colonise and dominate in these conditions, typically producing large numbers of seeds, thus assisting their spread.

Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) above is a major weed worldwide. Weeds pose a serious threat to human and animal health, to primary production and to our natural environment by reducing farm productivity, displacing native species and contributing to on-going land degradation and reducing land values. It is estimated that weed control measures cost Australian farmers $1.5 billion dollars per year and that weeds cost $2.5 billion dollars per year in lost agricultural production.

While many plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years have become weeds, a native species that colonises and persists in an ecosystem in which it did not previously exist can also be a weed.