African thistle: pest

Page last updated: Wednesday, 27 May 2020 - 2:58pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

African thistle (Berkheya rigida) is a pest in Western Australia (WA). This article describes the nature of the plant.

Form: herbaceous — perennial

Status: present in WA


A creeping plant native of South Africa, also known as Berkheya thistle, Hamelin thistle and Augusta thistle.

African thistle is an herbaceous perennial plant 0.3–0.6 metres high occasionally to 1.5 metres high. It has an extensive root system with creeping underground stems (rhizomes).

Leaves: It has spiny leaves about five to ten centimetres long densely covered with white hairs on the lower surface with deeply cut spiny lobes.

Flowers: Heads of small yellow flowers on short peduncles (flower stalks). The flower head is surrounded by pointed green bracts.

Seeds: Smooth, 2.5 millimetres long and without the normal feathery pappus of other thistles. Seeds may remain dormant for several years in the soil.

Agricultural and economic impact

Mainly causes environmental problems, especially in coastal areas. Can invade sandy pastures.

Legal status

The Western Australian Organism List (WAOL) contains information on the legal status of this pest in Western Australia (WA). Search for African thistle in the WAOL using the scientific name Berkheya rigida.

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+61 (0)8 9368 3080
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