Plume poppy (Bocconia frutescens)

Plume poppy is a shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall with very large, lobed leaves. It outcompetes native plants and can form dense infestations.


How does this weed affect you?

Plume poppy is a fast growing shrub or tree that can form dense infestations that:

  • outcompete native plants
  • compete with plants in eucalyptus plantations and orchards.

What does it look like?

Plume poppy is a branched shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall.  It often has multiple trunks.

Leaves are:

  • green on top and whitish on the underside 
  • large and can be up to 90 cm long, however they are usually 10-45 cm long and 4-20 cm wide
  • deeply lobed with many lobes 
  • sparsely covered with small stiff bristles on the upper surface
  • densely covered in fine hairs, especially along veins on the lower side.

Flowers are:

  • purplish to greenish
  • erect, oval shaped, with 2 joined sepals but no petals 
  • up to 1 cm long
  • in dense clusters of up to 2000.

Fruit are

  • capsules with a single seed
  • grey when mature
  • oval shaped 
  • about 1 cm long. 

Seeds are:

  • shiny and black, with a red fleshy covering at one end
  • 5-7 mm long.

Branches are:

  • up to 6 m long
  • green when young
  • brown and woody when older.

Where is it found?

In NSW, there has been an infestation near Taree in the Hunter Region. Plants were found in 2021 and it is likely that the original trees were intentionally planted as ornamental garden plants. A single plant has also been found on the Central Coast.

The plants have been destroyed and the sites are being monitored for any new plants. All new seedlings are destroyed.

Plume poppy is native to Central and South America and the West Indies. 

What type of environment does it grow in?  

Plume poppy grows in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates, usually in areas with at least 750 mm of rain per year. Plants can grow in full sun and partial shade but not full shade. Although plume poppy prefers well drained soil it has been found growing in a wide variety of soil types. 

Plume poppy can grow in:

  • woodlands, open forests and forest edges
  • pastures
  • orchids and plantations
  • disturbed sites such as roadsides.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Plume poppy 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.

How does it spread?

By seeds

A single plume poppy plant can produce over 300,000 seeds per year. The seeds can survive in the soil for decades. The seeds are spread by birds and water. 


Benitez, D. M., & Saulibio, D. (2007). Bocconia frutescens distribution on the island of Hawaii. Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (University of Hawai`i at Manoa).

Boucher, S., & Nishida, K. (2014). Description and biology of two new species of Neotropical Liriomyza Mik (Diptera, Agromyzidae), mining leaves of Bocconia (Papaveraceae). ZooKeys, (369), 79.

Chimera, C. G. (2013). CABI data sheet: Bocconia frutescens (plume poppy). Retreived 12 April 2012 from

Gunn, C. R., & Seldin, M. J. (1976). Seeds and fruits of North American Papaveraceae (No. 1517). Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture.

Starr, F., Starr, K., & Loope, L. (2003). Bocconia frutescens. Retreived 28 March 2023 from

Veldman, J. W., Greg Murray, K., Hull, A. L., Mauricio Garcia-C, J., Mungall, W. S., Rotman, G. B., ... & McNamara, L. K. (2007). Chemical defense and the persistence of pioneer plant seeds in the soil of a tropical cloud forest. Biotropica39(1), 87-93.

Wagner, W.L., Herbst, D.R. &  Sohmer. S.H. (1999). Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i. 2 vols. Bishop Museum Special Publication 83, University of Hawai'i and Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, HI.  [Cited in Starr et al. 2003]

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If you think you have seen this plant call your local council weeds officer. 


Do not plant ornamental Bocconia species. Do not move any soil that could be contaminated by seeds.

Hand removal

Plume poppy is shallow rooted so small plants can be pulled out by hand.  

Chemical  control

Cut all of the stems low to the ground and apply herbicide gel to the remaining stump within 15 seconds.

Collect all fruit and burn in a site that can be inspected regularly for any sprouting plants. Alternatively contact your local council weeds officer for advice on disposal.

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.

Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm in diameter. Apply 5 mm layer on stems more than 20 mm in diameter.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
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.
Hunter Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Eradication)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. A person should not deal with the plant, where dealings include but are not limited to buying, selling, growing, moving, carrying or releasing the plant. Notify local control authority if found.
*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 2023