Carrion flower (Orbea variegata)

Also known as: star flower, starfish cactus, toad cactus

Carrion flower is a succulent plant with upright fleshy stems and star-shaped foul smelling flowers. It forms dense mats preventing other plants from growing.

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How does this weed affect you?

Carrion flower forms dense mats in arid regions. It prevents native grass and herb seedlings from growing. It also reduces the growth and health of saltbush if it grows underneath them.

What does it look like?

Carrion flower is a leafless, succulent, ground cover with fleshy stems. It is a perennial plant that flowers from late summer to autumn.  

Stems are:

  • thick and fleshy with serrated edges
  • 15-25 cm long, 1-2 cm wide 
  • grey-green, or purple-tinged when growing in full sun.

Flowers are:

  • five lobed and star-shaped 
  • 5-8 cm wide
  • cream to yellow with brown or purple markings
  • with a strong, unpleasant smell to attract flies for pollination.

Fruit

Each flower produces a pair of pods that split open to release fine seeds attached to a tuft of silky hairs. The pods are:

  • smooth
  • cylindrical
  • 12 cm long.

Where is it found?

Carrion flower has been found in the North west and Central west regions of NSW in the Pilliga National Park and at Peak Hill. It also grows in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

 It is native to south-western Africa.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Carrion flower grows  in arid areas with sandy, well-drained soil. It has invaded arid bluebush and saltbush shrublands in Australia. The plant is also grown in gardens and pots as an ornamental plant.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Carrion flower during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2020)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

How does it spread?

By seeds

Carrion flower fruit have lots of seeds, which are easily spread by wind. Seeds germinate easily. 

By plant parts

Plants can also spread by stem fragments, which can be moved by animals, people dumping garden waste in the bush, machinery or water. 

More information

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Control

Prevention

Don't plant carrion flower in your garden. Dispose of plant material appropriately to stop accidental spread.

Learn to identify carrion flower and remove plants early to reduce the chance of spread. Small infestations are easier to get rid of.

Physical removal

Carrion flower can be easily removed by hand pulling plants. Take care to remove the whole plant and dispose of any plant material appropriately to prevent regrowth or spread.

Chemical control

Herbicides are effective but it may take a while before the plant dies. Care should be taken to avoid accidental damage to native plants.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Starane™)
Rate: 500 mL to 1 L per 100 L water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Starane™)
Rate: 35 mL per L diesel/kerosene
Comments: Basal bark
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 300 to 600 mL per 100 L water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 21 mL per L diesel/kerosene
Comments: Basal bark
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: One part product to 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: One part product to 9 parts water
Comments: Splatter gun
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 10 - 20 g per 100 L water plus surfactant
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Central West Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfill the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2020