APC (2021). Australian Plant Census. Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH). Available at: https://biodiversity.org.au/nsl/services/apc. [accessed 16/02/2021].
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Galenia (Galenia pubescens) is a low, spreading, matt forming, perennial herb, up to 60 cm high and 1.6 m wide or wider, and greyish in appearance. The stems are woody at the base, with stems and leaves are covered in scale-like hairs that form a dense covering of a mixture of bladder-hairs. Hairs are medifixed (attached in the middle or at a point somewhere along the length, and hair with two ends), are linear (very narrow in relation to its length, with the sides mostly parallel ) to fusiform (shaped like a spindle with yarn spun on the middle, having round or roundish cross-section and tapering at each end). The leaves are alternately arranged, slightly fleshy with smooth margins, obovate (egg-shaped in outline with the widest part nearer the tip of the leaflet) to spathulate (spoon-shaped; broad at the tip and narrowed towards the base), 5-35 mm long, 2-18 mm wide with the surface covered in small bumps. Leaf tips are rounded, to broadly acute (sharply pointed) often slightly recurved. It has a taproot which can be up to 2 metres deep in the soil.
The flowers are small (2-3 mm across), sessile (without a stalk) and found in the axils (between the leaf and the branch). They have 5 free (individual) small white or pinkish 'petals' (perianth segments) which may appear to yellow with age. There are 10 stamens that are slightly shorter than petals, and anthers can be pink, orange or yellow. There are 5 styles, about half as long as the petals.
The fruit is a 2-3 mm long and wide capsule, cup-shaped, dry (not fleshy) and leathery with 5 angles, concave at summit. Seeds are semicircular, about 1.5 mm long, dark red-brown, with tubercles (small wart-like outgrowth ) in rows along the back angles (Jacobs & Highet 1990; Cunningham et al. 1992; VicFlora 2016).
For further information and assistance with identification of Galenia contact the herbarium in your state or territory.
White or Pink.
Galenia is drought and salt tolerant. It grows in sandy or loamy soils, poor soil, and beach sand. It has also been recorded as growing around old mine sites on stony, shallow soils. It spreads along roadsides, waterways and other disturbed areas. It prefers low elevation areas, winter rainfall and long dry summers (Agriculture Victoria 2020b; Cunningham et al. 1992; eFlora 2021).
Galenia secunda was also introduced from South Africa and is very similar to Galenia (Galenia pubescens).
However, Galenia secunda eaves closely clustered on short lateral branches and all growing parts covered by greyish, shining, hollow hairs which are narrowly attached near the base. The cryptic flowers are white or yellowish (VicFlora Galenia secunda is currently recorded in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the NT (AVH 2021).
Native salt bush species (members of the family Chenopodiaceae) are also similar to Galenia. The flowers of Galenia have 10 stamens while saltbush species have 5 or fewer stamens (Jacobs & Highet 1990; Walsh & Entwisle 1996).
Galenia (Galenia pubescens) forms dense mats smothering existing low growing vegetation, preventing their regrowth, excluding desirable plants by preventing the germination of native or desirable species. It is drought and salt tolerant, a weed of highly disturbed sites (e.g. mine sites), waste areas, coastal environments, roadsides, parks, footpaths and lawns (Queensland Government 2016).
Agriculture: Bees that collect the nectar of Galenia produce honey with such a disagreeable flavour that is unsaleable. Galenia invades pastures and disturbed areas, and is known to produce nitrates that can be toxic to stock. (DPI NSW 2019), but is generally found in areas where over-grazing has occurred (Queensland Government 2016). However, although the research shows that Galenia contains levels of nitrates and soluble oxalates that can be toxic to stock, on infertile soils these chemical were not found to be in high levels, but plants grown in fertile soils accumulated the chemicals in toxic amounts (Williams 1979).
Native ecosystems: It aggressively invades coastal dunes, disturbed open vegetation, roadside vegetation, and rocky outcrop vegetation. In Victoria, Galenia is recorded as invading dry coastal vegetation, low grasslands, grassy woodland, dry sclerophyll forest and rock outcrop vegetation (Carr et al. 1992). Rocky chenopod open-scrub is reported as being invaded by Galenia. In South Australia at the Bolivar Treatment Works this species forms a dominant understorey mat in degraded woodland sites to the exclusion of other native ground flora. It is recorded as preventing the regeneration of seedlings in an endangered population of River Red Gum in the Hunter Catchment.
Urban areas: Invades any disturbed areas like roadsides, parks, footpaths and lawns.
The small seeds of Galenia are dispersed by wind and water and are spread by birds and livestock. Contaminated soil on machinery and people also spreads the plant by carrying both seed and root segments.
Galenia was introduced to Australia as a stabilising species for mining areas. In New South Wales there is a concentration of the species in the Hunter Valley area where coal mining has been undertaken since the 1800s. It was tested unsuccessfully as a potential pasture species in western New South Wales (Cunningham et al. 1992). Given its potential to contain high levels of toxins this would seem inadvisable (Williams 1997).
In the United States of America Galenia was introduced because its vigorous, dense growth was a useful erosion control and its succulent leaves were perceived to be advantageous for fire control (Williams 1997).
Galenia (Galenia pubescens) is a difficult weed to control once established. An integrated approach (numerous control methods) is required. Mahmood et al. (2018) confirms that the use of one control option is insufficient to control Galenia.
Chemical control: Galenia can be controlled with the use of a registered herbicide applied using a foliar spray when plants are actively growing during winter, spring and summer on fresh new growth. Optimal control is achieved for immature plants or before flowering. The use of herbicide alone will require follow up checks and retreatment. Replanting bare areas will help prevent Galenia re-establishment and reduce the number of follow up treatments. For herbicides recommended for NSW please see DPI NSW (2019). Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for further chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au.
Non-chemical control: Physical control: is an effective management option. However, be sure to remove the large taproot, otherwise plants will regrow. Removing large infestations can potentially leave significant areas of bare ground. Consider re vegetating these areas following control.
Hand pulling: Small infestations and individual plants may be removed by hand pulling or digging out.
Mechanical control: Galenia can be mechanically removed by ploughing, chipping or grubbing. All the root material must be removed to prevent resprouting. Once the weed is removed bare ground is often exposed and a vegetation replacement program should be used to prevent re-invasion by other weeds.
Competition and management: Not normally a problem in well maintained pastures, but replanted areas cleared will help prevent re-establishment.
Cultural methods: Goats have been used to control weed species and Galenia is listed as a species moderately palatable to them. However the impact of goats on native species occurring with Galenia should be considered if this method is contemplated.
Biological control: There are currently no biological control agents available for this species.
Galenia is a perennial herb flowering in mainly in summer but also in spring and autumn. It reproduces mostly by seed (Navie 2004).
NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA
Human observation (unvouchered) records exist for the ACT, via ALA, from iNaturalist.
In Western Australia Galenia occurs in the south west region with some records from the Kalgoorlie and Exmouth area (Western Australian Herbarium 1998-).
In South Australia it occurs mainly along the west coast around the Eyre and York peninsulas, with many collections from the higher rainfall areas around Adelaide and the Hills, with more records from drier the Nullabour, Stony Plains and Murray Darling areas, with some roadside collections from further north in the dry arid zones (eFloraSA 2021).
In New South Wales it is recorded in the central and northern coast and tablelands, and the western plains areas (PlantNET 2021).
In Victoria it occurs across a wide area from west Gippsland to the north-western mallee area from (VicFlora 2016) .
In Tasmania it is known from one collection on Flinders Island, and from Hobart area from collections made from 2007 onwards (AVH 2021).
Only a few collections made in NT from the southern arid areas (AVH 2021).
Only two collections from Queensland, one from tropical area south of Cairns, and the other from the arid area near NSW border (AVH 2021).
Galenia is native to South Africa (Jacobs and Highet 1990; POWO 2019). Introduced and established in the US in California, Central Chile, Palestine, and Australia (POWO 2019).
Not declared in any Australian state or territory.
Coastal Galenia, Carpet Plant, Blanket Plant, Blanket Weed, Carpet Weed.