Khaki weed (Alternanthera pungens)

Khaki weed is a thick ground cover with spiny burrs that can injure people and animals. It can contaminate crops and devalue wool.


How does this weed affect you?

Khaki weed spreads by seed within spiny bracts that adhere to tyres, clothing and animals. Local spread may also occur through spreading stems that root at nodes. Widespread in wasteland, caravan parks, orchards and recreation areas. Spines are a problem with dogs and stock but are particularly troublesome to humans and readily penetrate skin.

What does it look like?

Khaki weed is a low growing ground cover with hairy stems. The roots are perennial but the above ground growth is annual. 

Leaves are oval to circular with a very small point at the tip. Leaves are up to 5 cm long and 1 cm wide. They do not have stalks. 

Flowers are oval shaped up to 1.5 cm long and 1 cm wide. They have barbed hairs at the base. The petals-like parts of the flowers are white or pale yellow with sharp points on the tips. 

The fruit is a prickly burr up to 1 cm long.

The roots form at the nodes of the stems.

Where is it found?

Kahki weed is widespread across many regions in NSW.

It is native to Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

Kahki weed grows in disturbed areas such as roadsides. It also grows in lawns and parks. 

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Khaki weed during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2024)
    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.

More information

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Herbicide options

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

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 12362 Expires 28/02/2028
Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 2.0 L/ha
Comments: Only for use in sown tropical pastures. Spray when weeds are small and actively growing, preferably before flowering and when secondary roots are present on the shown pasture. See permit for further critical comments.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

2,4-D 300 g/L + Picloram 75 g/L (Tordon® 75-D)
Rate: 650 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Active growth in full leaf.
Withholding period: Do not graze or cut crops (except sugar cane 8 weeks) or pastures for stock food for 7 days after application.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

2,4-D amine 625 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1.1 – 2.2 L/ha
Comments: Spray in pastures, seedlings only.
Withholding period: 7 days withholding for grazing
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

2,4-D LV ester 680g/L (Estercide® Xtra)
Rate: 800 mL to 1.15 L per hectare
Comments: Boom spray application for young seedlings in pastures without legumes.
Withholding period: Do not graze or cut for stock food for 7 days after application.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Amitrole 250 g/L + Ammonium thiocyanate 220 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1.1 L in 100 L of water
Comments: Spot spray when weeds are actively growing, immediately prior to flowering. Respraying will be necessary to destroy regrowth and seedlings. For non-crop areas around buildings commercial and industrial areas, domestic and public service areas, right-of ways.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: 34 (previously group Q), Inhibition of lycopene cyclase
Resistance risk: Moderate

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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 pest 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.
Murray Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Asset Protection)
Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil 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.

Reviewed 2024