Telegraph weed (Heterotheca grandiflora)

Also known as: stinky daisy, sticky daisy, golden aster

Telegraph weed is an erect herb usually 50-100 cm tall with yellow daisy like flowers. It outcompetes native plants especially in coastal areas.


How does this weed affect you?

Telegraph weed grows quickly and can form dense infestations which:

  • outcompete native plants especially in coastal dunes
  • reduce the visual appeal of beaches.

What does it look like?

Telegraph weed is an annual or biennial herb with stems up to 2 m tall, though usually 50-100 cm tall. Plants start as a rosette they then produce one or more upright stems. After flowering the stems die and do not reshoot till the following spring.

Leaves are:

  • in a rosette at the base of the plant and alternate along the stem
  • oval to oblong shaped with either a pointed or rounded tip
  • 2-6 cm long and up to 2.5 cm wide (leaves higher up the stem are smaller)
  • relatively thick
  • irregularly toothed along the edges
  • hairy on both sides, though denser on the underside
  • smell like camphor when crushed. 

Flowerheads are:

  • yellow
  • daisy like with 25-35 petals
  • 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter
  • green and cuplike at the base with several rows of narrow-oblong hairy bracts
  • strongly scented
  • mostly present in late summer


  • are 2–5 mm long
  • can be with or without a pappus (a ring of hairs on the end of the seed), that are 4-7 mm long.

Stems are:

  • dull green
  • thick and upright
  • hairy and sticky
  • cylindrical
  • sometimes ribbed
  • branched towards the top of the plant.

Similar looking plants:

Telegraph weed looks similar to:

  • Stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens ), which has smaller flowers that are only 3-10 mm in diameter.
  • Fleabanes (Conyza spp.), which are not sticky and have much smaller flowerheads less than 5 mm in diameter

Where is it found?

In NSW, most plants have been found in the Hunter region especially around Raymond Terrace and Newcastle. The first plants were found in the 1960s. One plant has been recorded in the North Coast region. There are also infestations in coastal regions of southeast Queensland.

Telegraph weed is native to south-western United States of America and northern Mexico.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Telegraph weed grows in warm temperate and subtropical climates. Plants can tolerate hot dry areas including semi-arid regions. Most plants have been found in sandy or rocky soils. In NSW and SE Queensland it has been found growing in:

  • coastal dunes
  • pastures
  • disturbed sites such as roadsides.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Telegraph 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.

How does it spread?

By seed

Telegraph weed flowers produce up to 130 seeds per flowerhead. Seeds are spread by:

  • wind and water
  • attaching to animals, clothing and beach towels
  • machinery. 


Csurhes, S. (2016) Invasive plant risk assessment Telegraph weed Heterotheca grandiflora Queensland Government.

Heyligers, P. C. (2008). Flora of the Stockton and Port Hunter sandy foreshores with comments on fifteen notable introduced species. Cunninghamia10(3), 493-511.

Identic Pty. Ltd. & Lucid. (2016) Weeds of Australia: Heterotheca grandiflora REtreived February 2023 from:

Queensland Government (2022) Restricted invasive plant Telegraph weed Retrieved 21 December 2022 from

More information

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Physical control

Telegraph weed seedlings have shallow roots and can be hand pulled. Larger plants may need to be dug out because the plants develop fibrous roots as they mature. Hand pulling or digging out plants disturbs the soil and can stimulate seed germination. Follow up by checking for seedlings and remove them before they produce seeds.


Contact your local council for advice on how to dispose of this weed.

Chemical control

Spray actively growing plants before they flower. Ensure that all of the foliage is covered with the herbicide mix.


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 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL per 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray actively growing plants. See permit for conditions and critical comments.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
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 - Asset Protection)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. 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