Weed Identification

Australia > > Skeleton Weed

Skeleton Weed

Chondrilla juncea

Family: Asteraceae.

Form: Herb

Origin: Native of Europe, Asia, north-western Africa.

Flowers/Seedhead: Flowerheads solitary or 2 or 3 together, 12 cm wide, shortly stalked or without a stalk (sessile); consisting of 912 small flowers (florets) per head. Flowers summer and autumn.

Description: Perennial herb to 1.2 m high. Plants with deep taproot and creeping roots that may form new plants. Leaves in rosette lobed, usually hairless, 420 cm long, 1.55 cm wide; narrow-leaf, broadleaf and intermediate-leaf forms are recognised in Australia, primarily based on shape of basal leaves, leaves die early in the flowering period and plants are then virtually leafless over summer.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by skeletal appearance; milky latex from all parts; leaves mainly in basal rosette with fewer no reduced leaves on flowering stems; all florets yellow and strap-like; bracts around flowerheads in 2rows, outer bracts minute; seeds brown, ribbed, cylindrical, 810 mm long including hair-like beak 56mm long, that is surrounded at the base by 5 or 6 spreading scales; apex of hair-like beak with a row of white bristles 67 mm long.

Dispersal: Spreads by seed, pieces and new rosettes from lateral roots.

Flowerheads along stem
photos J.J.Dellow & R.W. Medd

Notes: A serious invader of pastures and crop land. Chokes headers. Spread enhanced by continual cropping. Drought resistant and can provide useful grazing. Chondrilla Rust Fungus, Puccinia chondrillae, has successfully controlled the narrow-leaved form of Skeleton Weed. The eradication program for Skeleton Weed in WA has limited its spread.


    Noxious Weeds of Australia. W. Parsons and E. Cuthbertson, 1992, pages 264270. The Biology of Australian Weeds. R. Groves et al., (eds), Vol. 1, 1995, pages 6786.

Narrow-leaf              Intermediate-leaf              Broad-leaf

Fallow land with skeleton weed
Binya, NSW, Dec

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card H29

More information about WEEDeck is available from Sainty & Associates Pty. Ltd.


Australia > > Skeleton Weed


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