Capeweed: What Is It, And How Do You Control It?


A member of the sunflower family, capeweed is classified as a noxious weed in southern, central and eastern regions of Australia – so how do you control it?

Though capeweed is widely known as a very common weed in Australian gardens, lawns and agricultural areas, it is also increasingly becoming a problem in natural areas – particularly in coastal environments and in semi-arid and arid regions. Native to South Africa, the seeds are commonly dispersed short distances by wind, but can also become attached to birds, animals, shoes and clothing. The seeds are also spread into new areas via contaminated soil, dumped garden waste, by vehicles and machinery, and in contaminated agricultural produce (i.e. fodder).

Despite this, it’s important to get a capeweed infestation under control in agricultural settings, as it can accumulate extremely high levels of nitrate in high fertility sites such as stock camps and stock yards. While it can (and often) does taint the milk from dairy cattle, it can also cause nitrogen poisoning in other livestock. The risk is higher within the first week of rain, after a long drought, as this is when the nitrate builds up in the hot, arid, dry soil – so what do farmers need to do in order to get capeweed under control?

How To Identify Capeweed 

Traditionally appearing from February to about April, capeweed forms a rosette of grey-green succulent leaves and has daisy-like flowers with black centres in spring and early summer. Capeweed is similar to many other rosette types of weeds, the only difference being the leaves have white and quite hairy undersides. 

Unfortunately capeweed can produce up to 4000 seeds per annum, which can stay dormant in the soil for several years waiting for the right conditions in order to germinate. Somewhat resembling a dandelion, the good news is that capeweed is relatively easy to spot thanks to it’s striking yellow flower. Other key features to take note of include – 

Stem And Leaves – The flowering stems are loosely covered in white wooly hairs, and the simple leaves are mostly found at the base of the plant. These leaves have a hairless or slightly hairy upper surface that are green and white-ish in colour, and can range from anywhere between 5-25cm in length. 

Flowers And Fruits – The flowering stems bear a single flower head with a hemispherical base, surrounded by several rows of bracts. Each flower head also has a number of tiny purplish tubular flowers in the centre, which are surrounded by several large yellow petals. 

How To Control And Kill Capeweed

Anyone who shares their home with animals – big or small – knows that the utmost care is required when using pesticides or herbicides within their vicinity. While this is relevant for a small garden infestation, the same logic also applies to farmers with livestock (cattle, sheep, horses) present in their pastures. The good news is that when removing capeweed, there is a natural and chemical-free alternative that is safe for both human and animal inhabitants.

Bioweed Agronomist Logan Brown is an avid equine lover, and spends much of her time at home riding and training eventing horses. A more recent hobby of hers is retraining racing horses, so that they can compete in the same style of eventing. Needless to say – the arena on her Victorian property certainly gets a workout, and requires regular attention to keep it in top condition. In an effort to combat leafy invaders to her arena, including capeweed, Logan regularly uses Bioweed as an organic herbicide weed killer.

“That’s why here at Bioweed, we recommend that you slash down your more mature capeweed before applying your herbicide. This will get you better results, but it also can be more economical. Bioweed also has the added effect of seed control, which thankfully allows you to control and stay on top of the 4,000 or so seeds that capeweed produces. You can use Bioweed near your pets and your livestock without having to move them all or keep them out of the paddock or pasture, making it perfect to use around your home or your property.”

When deploying Bioweed as a method to eradicate capeweed, this plant is best controlled at a 1-4 true leaf stage of growth, following label recommendations. 

If you would like to know more about organic weed solutions, please get in touch with us at Bioweed to discuss ways we can help you combat weeds, organically, at your property.