Skeleton weed Management guide - Program and protocols

Page last updated: Wednesday, 27 November 2019 - 12:20pm

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Plants confused with skeleton weed   

Flatweed and smooth catsear (Hypochaeris spp.)

Flatweed (Hypochaeris spp.)

Hypochaeris species have more than 11 yellow petals

Flatweed is a short-lived perennial, and smooth catsear is an annual plant. Hybrids of these two species exist throughout the south of the State.
Characteristics of Hypochaeris species:

  • fleshy basal rosette with club-shaped leaves and a rounded apex
  • simple or slightly branched, semi-erect stem up to 30cm tall
  • more than 11 seeds per head that disperse with a parachute of silky hairs.


Wild lettuce (Lactuca serriola L.)

Wild lettuce (Lactuca serriola) can be confused with skeleton weed

Wild lettuce has deeply lobed leaves

A biennial plant, seen in townsites, on road verges and in paddocks.

  • stiff, prickly stem up to 1.5m tall
  • stalkless, deeply lobed or toothed, leaves, with spines along upper margins and along the lower midrib
  • pale yellow flowers borne on florets
  • lower leaves are spiny. Less divided upper leaves held upright in a north-south alignment.


Prickly lettuce (Lactuca saligna L.)

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca saligna) is often confused with skeleton weed

Prickly lettuce grows taller than skeleton weed

Prickly lettuce is a biennial herb often confused with wild lettuce. It is common in townsites and around farm buildings.

  • reaches up to 1–1.5m tall
  • very narrow leaves up to 15cm long and free of spines
  • flowers are pale yellow
  • seeds disperse by air, aided by a parachute of silky hairs.


Wild turnip (Brassica tournefortii G.)

Wild turnip (Brassica tournefortii) is often confused with skeleton weed

Wild turnip flowers much
earlier than skeleton weed

An erect annual plant up to 60cm tall.

  • basal rosette leaves with scattered hairs on the midrib and veins
  • plants with one or more stems, with soft, downward-pointing bristles
  • small, pale yellow to cream flowers 10-20mm in diameter, with four petals
  • elongated and segmented seed pods 7cm long.


Wild mustard, Indian hedge mustard (Sisymbrium orientale L.)

Wild mustard or Indian hedge mustard (Sisymbrium orientale) is often confused with skeleton weed

Seeds are contained in
smooth elongated pods

An erect annual, sometimes biennial plant, up to 1m tall.

  • presents dense, dark foliage on one or more stems, no lasting basal rosette
  • arrow-shaped leaves densely covered in imperceptible fine hairs
  • leaves on short stalks along the stems
  • yellow flowers 10–20mm in diameter with four petals
  • smooth, elongated seed pods 11cm long, splitting lengthways when mature.


Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum L.)

Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) is often confised with skeleton weed

Wild radish flowers much
earlier than skeleton weed

An erect annual plant up to 1m tall.

  • basal rosette with broadly lobed, hairy leaves that die off before maturity
  • hairy stems with oblong and toothed or lobed stem leaves
  • pale orange or yellow to white flowers, and sometimes lilac, 30–40mm in diameter, with four dark-veined petals
  • seed pods are up to 8cm long.


Spot the difference...

comparison skeleton weed with other weeds


Martin Atwell