This information on this page has been reviewed by the weeds working group of the Environment and Invasives Committee (EIC) and is correct as of November 2020.

Government weeds strategies and working groups

The Australian Weeds Strategy (2017-2027) provides a national framework for addressing weed issues whilst maintaining the profitability and sustainability of Australia’s primary industries and the reducing the impact of weeds on the environment.

This strategy is overseen by the inter-jurisdictional Environment and Invasives Committee and its weeds working group.

A number of jurisdictions also have specific Biosecurity or Invasive Species strategies:

  1. ACT Biosecurity Strategy (2016-2026)
  2. NSW Invasive Species Plan (2018-2021)
  3. NT Biosecurity Strategy (2016-2016)
  4. QLD Invasive Plants and Animal Strategy (2019-2024)
  5. WA Biosecurity Strategy

Weeds of National Significance (WoNS)

Thirty two Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) have been identified by Australian governments based on their invasiveness, potential for spread and environmental, social and economic impacts.

A list of 20 WoNS was endorsed in 1999 and a further 12 were added in 2012.

Note that some of  the 32 WoNS are grouped together together as one (e.g. Asparagus weeds, Brooms, Opuntioid cacti, and Bitou bush / Boneseed).

  1. African boxthorn
  2. asparagus weeds
  3. alligator weed
  4. athel pine
  5. bellyach bush
  6. bitou bush/boneseed
  7. blackberry
  8. bridal creeper
  9. brooms
  10. cabomba
  11. cat’s claw creeper
  12. Chilean needle grass
  13. fireweed
  14. gamba grass
  15. gorse
  16. hymenachne
  17. lantana
  18. Madeira vine
  19. mesquite
  20. mimosa
  21. opuntioid cacti
  22. parkinsonia
  23. parthenium weed
  24. pond apple
  25. prickly acacia
  26. rubber vine
  27. sagittaria
  28. salvinia
  29. serrated tussock
  30. silverleaf nightshade
  31. water hyacinth
  32. willows

Many of these WONS have their own management manuals and guides. More detailed information about these WONS and their Manuals can be found via our Weeds Profile section.

Revitalising the WoNS initiaitve

The Environment and Invasives Committee’s Weeds Working Group commissioned a report in 2020 to analyse the WoNS initiative and draft a framework to underpin the future of national established weed management.

The report ‘National Established Weed Priorities – Towards a National Framework’ proposes a draft framework for the nationally coordinated management of established weeds (the draft framework) at section 2.

The draft framework retains the essence of the original WoNS initiative (through the WoNS component), but also moves beyond the single species approach to encompass other national established weed priorities including Weed Issues of National Significance (WINS) and a National Established Weeds Action List (NEWAL). This broadens the scope of the original initiative, addressing landscape-scale management issues for established weeds (WINS), and offering continued management of discrete national priority actions where required (NEWAL).

The Weeds Working group sought feedback on the draft framework through workshops in March 2021, with additional workshops planned for July 2021. Workshop feedback will be collated to further refine the draft framework.

For more information on the workshops or framework contact pestanimal&

A final draft of the framework will be made available on this website for public comment, before being provided to the Environment and Invasives Committee for endorsement and implementation.

Candidate weeds for biological control

Successful biological control is one of the most effective ways to control weeds across the landscape in the long term. Over many years governments have worked together to determine weeds which are suitable for biological control, this currently being through the Environment and Invasives Committee. It is important to determine whether there is any significant use of a weed (as a cultivated or wild plant) that would likely preclude biological control being used against it, before investing in a lengthy and comprehensive research in biological control agents.

The introduction of a potential biological control agent is separately assessed under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The assessment involves comprehensive host testing (testing what plants the biological control agent will attack) before release.

Endorsed species

The table below lists the weed species endorsed for biological control by intergovernmental committees, including two cases where formal approval as a target weed for biological control was obtained under the Biological Control Act 1984. A link to the current Environment and Invasives Committee procedure for determining candidate weed species and/or control agents for biological control is at the bottom of this page.

Scientific Name Common Name Year approved Approval by Submitting member
Ageratina riparia mistflower 1983 AWC QLD
Ambrosia artemisiifolia ragweed 1983 AWC QLD
Andredera cordifolia Madeira vine 2007 NRMSC(13) QLD
Asparagus asparagoides bridal creeper 1991 SCA (147) SA
Bryophyllum delagoense mother-of-millions 2001 SCARM (18) QLD
Bryophyllum delagoense x B. diagremontianum hybrid mother-of-millions 2001 SCARM (18) QLD
Cabomba caroliniana cabomba 2006 SCRAM(12) QLD
Calotropis procera calotrope 2014 AWC28 QLD
Cardiospermum grandiflorum balloon vine 2019 EIC – OOS-2019-05 NSW
Carduus nutans nodding thistle 1986 SCA(136) NSW
Carduus pycnocephalus Italian thistle 1986 SCA(136) NSW
Carduus tenuiflorus slender thistle 1986 SCA(136) NSW
Chromolaena odorata Siam weed 2010 AWC 21 QLD
Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. monilifera bitou bush 1986 SCA (136) NSW
Cirsium arvense perennial thistle 1988 SCA (141) VIC
Cirsium vulgare spear thistle 1988 SCA (141) VIC
Clidemia hirta Koster’s curse 2014 AWC29 QLD
Conyza canadensis Canadian fleabane 2019 EIC – OOS-2019-10 QLD
Conyza sumatrensis tall fleabane 2019 EIC – OOS-2019-10 QLD
Conyza bonariensis flaxleaf fleabane 2017 IPAC 10 2017 NSW
Cylindropuntia pallida Hudson pear 2008 NBC 2 QLD
Cylindropuntia spp. cholla cacti, prickly pears 2013 AWC 27 QLD
Cyperus aromaticus Navua sedge 2020 EIC – OOS-2020-08 QLD
Delairea odorata cape ivy 2018 EIC 1 2018 VIC
Dolichandra unguis-cati cat’s claw creeper 2005 NRMSC (9) QLD
Echium plantagineum Paterson’s curse 1987 BCA, 1985 + agents VIC
Eichhornia crassipes water hyacinth 1976 AAC (95) QLD
Euphorbia paralias sea spurge 2010 AWC 21 WA
Genista linifolia flax-leaved broom 1998 SCARM (12) SA
Genista monspessulana cape broom 1998 SCARM (12) SA
Genista stenopetala Madeira broom 1998 SCARM (12) SA
Heliotropium amplexicaule blue heliotrope 2001 SCARM (18) OOS NSW
Jatropha curcas physic-nut 1999 SCARM (13)
Jatropha gossypifolia bellyache bush 1999 SCARM (13)
Leucanthemum vulgare ox-eye daisy 2020 EIC – OOS-2020-01 NSW
Lycium ferocissimum African boxthorn 2016 IPAC – OOS-2016-04 SA
Marrubium vulgare white horehound 1991 SCA (147) VIC
Miconia calvescens miconia 2014 AWC29 QLD
Mikania micrantha mikania 2014 AWC29 QLD
Mimosa invisa giant sensitive plant 1983 SCA (129) NT
Moraea flaccida one-leaf Cape tulip 1999 SCARM (13) WA
Moraea miniata two-leaf Cape tulip 1999 SCARM (13) WA
Nassella neesiana Chilean needle grass 2005 NRMSC (10) VIC
Nassella trichotoma serrated tussock 1998 SCARM (12) NSW
Onopordum acanthium Scotch thistle 1988 SCA (141) NSW
Onopordum acaulon stemless thistle 1988 SCA (141) NSW
Onopordum illyricum Illyrian thistle 1988 SCA (141) NSW
Onopordum tauricum Taurian thistle 1988 SCA (141) NSW
Opuntia robusta wheel cactus 1988 NRMSC15 SA
Parkinsonia aculeata parkinsonia 1983 AWC QLD
Passiflora foetida stinking passionflower 2018 EIC – OOS-2018-17 WA
Pereskia aculeata leaf cactus 2019 EIC – OOS-2019-09 NSW
Phyla cansescens lippia 2006 NRMSC (12) QLD
Polygala myrtifolia var. myrtifolia polygala 2018 EIC 1 2018 WA
Prosopis spp. mesquite 1991 SCA (147) WA
Reseda lutea cutleaf mignonette 1995 SCARM (5) SA
Reseda phyteuma rampion mignonette 1995 SCARM (5) SA
Rubus fruticosus agg. blackberry 1985 BCA, 1985 no agents VIC
Rumex acetosella sorrel 1983 SCA (129) WA
Rumex conglomeratus clustered dock 1983 SCA (129) WA
Rumex crispus curled dock 1983 SCA (129) WA
Rumex obtusifolius broad leaved dock 1983 SCA (129) WA
Rumex pulcher fiddle dock 1983 SCA (129) WA
Sagittaria calycina arrowhead 2015 IPAC 04 – 2015 VIC
Sagittaria platyphylla delta arrowhead 2015 IPAC 04 – 2015 VIC
Schinus terebinthifolius broad-leaved pepper tree 2018 EIC 1 2018 NSW
Senecia madagascariensis fireweed 1991 SCA (147) QLD
Senna obtusifolia sicklepod 1983 AWC QLD
Senna tora sicklepod 2020 EIC – OOS-2020-05 QLD
Sida acuta common wireweed 1985 SCA (134)
Sida cordifolia flannel weed 1985 SCA (134)
Silybum marianum variegated thistle 1988 SCA (141) VIC
Solanum elaeagnifolium silverleaf nightshade 1986 SCA (136) VIC
Solanum viarum tropical soda apple 2017 IPAC 10 2017 DAWR
Sonchus oleraceus common sowthistle 2017 IPAC 10 2017 DAWR
Sporobolus africanus Parramatta grass 2007 NRMSC (14) QLD
Sporobolus fertilis giant Parramatta grass 2007 NRMSC (14) QLD
Sporobolus jacquemontii American rats tail grass 2007 NRMSC (14) QLD
Sporobolus natalensis & Sporobolus pyramidalis giant rat’s tail grass 2007 NRMSC (14) QLD
Tecoma stans yellow bells 2018 EIC 1 2018 NSW
Tradescantia fluminensis wandering jew 2015 IPAC – OOS-2015-11 VIC
Tribulus terrestris caltrop 1989 SCA (143) VIC
Ulex europaeus gorse 1995 SCARM (6) TAS


AAC – Australian Agricultural Council
NRMSC – Natural Resource Management Standing Committee
AWC – Australian Weeds Committee
BCA – Biological Control Act
EIC – Environment and Invasives Committee
IPAC – Invasive Plant and Animal Committee
SCA – Standing Committee on Agriculture
SCARM – Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management

There are additional weeds for which biological control programs occurred, which pre-existed the approval processes that have occurred since 1983. This list is included below.

Weed Target Common Name Program recognised as established prior to formal weed approval process
Acacia nilotica ssp. Indica prickly acacia Yes
Acanthocereus pentagonus sword pear Yes
Ageratina adenophora Crofton weed Yes
Alternanthera philoxeroides alligator weed Yes
Baccharis halimifolia groundsel bush Yes
Cryptostegia grandiflora rubber vine Yes
Cylindropuntia imbricata chainlink cactus Yes
Cytisus scoparius Scotch broom Yes
Harrisia bonplandii harrisia cactus Yes
Harrisia martinii harrisia cactus Yes
Harrisia tortuosa harrisia cactus Yes
Lantana camara lantana Yes
Lantana montevidensis creeping lantana Yes
Mimosa pigra mimosa Yes
Opuntia aurantiaca jointed prickly-pear Yes
Opuntia dillenii spiny pest pear Yes
Opuntia monacantha drooping prickly pear Yes
Opuntia streptacantha erect prickly pear Yes
Opuntia stricta erect prickly pear Yes
Opuntia tomentosa velvet tree pear Yes
Parthenium hysterophorus parthenium weed Yes
Pistia stratiotes water cabbage Yes
Salvinia molesta giant salvinia Yes
Sida rhombifolia arrowleaf sida Yes
Xanthium strumarium (syn. X. occidentale) Noogoora burr Yes

The first biological control approved listing was implemented by the Australian Weeds Committee. The current 2019 Environment and Invasives Committee procedure can be downloaded in PDF format – EIC PROCEDURE FOR ENDORSING CANDIDATE WEEDS FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTROL


Species permitted entry into Australia

There are lists that identify what plant species are permitted entry into Australia. This list can found via this Australian Government website.

National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases

The Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer has finalised a list of priority exotic environmental pests, weeds and diseases.

The Priority List focuses on exotic pests, weeds and diseases that are not established in Australia and that pose the highest risk to our environment and public spaces. This list will be used to enable activities that help prevent the entry, establishment and spread of exotic pests and diseases.

You can find the list here

National Environmental Alert List

The National Environmental Alert List (the Alert List) for environmental weeds was developed in 2001. It identified 28 weed species that were in the early stages of establishment and had the potential to become a significant threat to biodiversity if they were not managed:

Species were identified for the Alert List based on three criteria:

  • posing a high or serious potential threat to the environment
  • having limited distribution within Australia at present
  • being amenable to successful eradication or containment programs.

Whilst this list is no longer in formal use by governments, the species still represent serious weed risks and control activities continue to be undertaken for certain species in some parts of Australia. Refer to the Weed Profiles for specific species information.

Agricultural sleeper weeds list

Sleeper weeds is a term used for plants that appear benign for many years, but which may suddenly spread rapidly following certain natural events such as flood, fire, drought, climate change, or change in land or water management. Sleeper weeds are not always recognised as a significant problem, even though the potential threat they pose to industry, people or the environment may be extreme.

In 2006 the Bureau of Rural Science (now Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences) identified 17 potential agricultural sleeper weeds as priorities for eradication. These were:

  • Aeschynomene paniculata
  • Asystasia gangetica ssp micrantha
  • Baccharis pingraea
  • Brillantaisia lamium
  • Centaurea eriophora
  • Crupina vulgaris
  • Cuscuta suaveolens
  • Eleocharis parodii
  • Froelichia floridana
  • Gmelina elliptica
  • Hieracium aurantiacum
  • Hypericum tetrapterum
  • Nassella charruana
  • Oenanthe pimpinelloides
  • Onopordum tauricum
  • Piptochaetium montevidense
  • Rorippa sylvestris

Species targeted for eradication

The National Tropical Weeds Eradication Program targets five weed species native to tropical America that have been introduced into North Queensland:

  • Limnocharis (Limnocharis flava)
  • Mikania Vine (Mikania micrantha)
  • Miconia (Miconia calvescens racemosaM. nervosa)

Limnocharis, miconia and mikania vine are all considered serious weeds in other countries, while Miconia nervosa and Miconia racemosa have exhibited invasive characteristics in North Queensland.

The program is managed by Biosecurity Queensland, a business unit of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Funding for the program is shared nationally with contributions from the Australian, Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory and Western Australian governments.

The Red Witchweed National Eradication Program targets eradication of Striga asiatica, a parasitic plant which hosts on grasses, including sorghum, corn, sugar cane and various important pasture grasses.

The RWWNEP program is managed by Biosecurity Queensland, a business unit of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and jointly funded/supported by the Federal Government as well as state government agencies in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory plus Grain Industry Peak Bodies, Meat and Livestock Association and Canegrowers.

Hawkweeds, Hieracium species, are also the subject of eradication programs in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

State and territory noxious weed lists

In addition to the national lists above, state and territory governments have their own lists of noxious weeds. The Weeds Australia profiles contains a summary of the state and territory noxious weed legislation and associated lists.

We will be providing a list of species here imminently, as it is currently being updated.