How To Control Cats Ear Weed


Often mistaken for dandelions, cats ear weed is well known as a noxious invader and is quite fond of wetter environments – so how do you get on top of it?

Although originally native to Europe, cats ear weed has well and truly naturalised across many parts of Australia and New Zealand. While it’s mostly found in disturbed areas, such as land where vegetation, topsoil, or overburden has been removed, or land previously used for agriculture or grazing, it’s also been known to pop up in gardens and lawns. It also appeared to have developed a mild tolerance to salinity, as it’s even been found around the edges of salt lakes and swamps. 

Identifying Cats Ear Weed

Officially known as Hypochaeris Radicata, cats ear weed is a perennial plant that is commonly mistaken for dandelions. While both have low rosettes with long stems, and yellow flowers that give way to white, puffy wind borne seed heads, cats ear weeds do have some key points of difference. While dandelions have hollow and unforked stems, the same area of a cats ear weed is solid and forked in comparison. 

Although it may sound strange, the name itself is derived from the long, dense hairs that cover the leaves, which surprise – almost resemble the ear of a cat. When identifying this weed in your garden, lawn or pasture, they can actually grow up to 80cm tall. The leaves are oblanceolate (lance shaped with a point attached to the stem) and grow 2-30cm long, and 10-40cm wide. Leaf margins are toothed to slightly lobed in appearance, and the surfaces are quite rough, and covered in stiff, short hairs.

In comparison, the flowers of the cats ear weed are bright yellow. The flower heads are usually 20-30mm wide, across leafless and slightly scaly stems. The fruit is a cypsela or achene (dry, indehiscent and one-seeded), 8-17 mm long with a long beak.

Cats ear weeds produce an average of 2,300 seeds per plant – but can also produce as many as 6,000 seeds per rosette. Thankfully, the seeds don’t usually last too long once in the soil, as their viability is limited to less than twelve months, and moist conditions are required for the seeds to germinate.

Typically, cats ear weed flowers throughout summer. For the first year, the plant will remain in a basal rosette, before a flower develops in the second year. Once established, the weed can live happily in the soil for years at a time, forming thick roots that can make it difficult to remove and control. While not toxic in nature, cats ear weed is often a point of irritation for farmers and agriculture professionals, as the plant quickly takes over native vegetation that’s more suited for grazing. 

Getting On Top of Cats Ear Weed

Bioweed is an organic, non selective weed killer that works fast on contact with the weed, in order to rapidly desiccate and burn even the most stubborn of plants. It can be used anywhere around the house including garden beds, veggie patches, paths and driveways, and is safe to use around children, animals and even native wildlife. 

The best part? Bioweed is the brainchild of well established agricultural leaders Greenpro, and is backed by over twenty years of research and development. Owned and manufactured in Australia, the primary ingredient of Bioweed is actually sustainably sourced pine oil, and is approved by NASAA, ACO and APVMA for use around organic farms and food production.

Just a handful of the key takeaways from using Bioweed include:

  • Visible symptoms on some weed species after just one hour
  • Organic certification 
  • Controls a wide range of common weeds and grasses
  • Non residual herbicide, breaking down in the soil within 72 hours 
  • Kills both weeds AND their seeds
  • Safe to use around children, pets, vegetables and gardens
  • 100% synthetic chemical free and glyphosate free
  • Owned and produced in Australia

While hand plucking weeds is an easy and cost free method used to prevent a weed infestation – it’s certainly not the most convenient. In comparison, a glyphosate-free weed killer like Bioweed is a safe way to keep them under control. As a non-residual solution, it will break down into the soil in as little as 72 hours and can combat over 200 invasive weed species

To witness groundbreaking product working it’s magic in the flesh, some of the Bioweed agronomists actually spotted cats ear weed in the grass at the 2021 AgFest Field Days in Tasmania, and filmed the application process. In just two short hours, the results spoke for themselves. 

If you’re on the hunt for a safer way to spray, or simply want to know more about effectively eliminating weeds at home, then check out other tips and tricks in our online advice forum, or contact us for any further queries.