Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from Mediterranean Europe and western Asia, Common Crupina (Crupina vulgaris) is annual small herb, 300 mm to 1 m tall,
  • Plants have 2 types of leaves, the first are rosette leaves entire oval-like leaves laying flat to near flat on the ground, followed by deeply divided stem leaves with linear segments, and thin flower-heads with purple flowers.
  • A 'sleeper weed', currently known only from a two sites in South Australia and possibly exterminated there.
  • reproduce via seed, plants produce large amounts of viable seed lasting for only  3 years in soil. 
  • Seeds are distributed by moving water, wildlife, and domestic livestock; they are too large to be wind-dispersed. Seeds can pass through animals and remain viable.
  • Common Crupina is capable of spreading throughout Mediterranean climates in southern Australia.
  • Control via mechanical and physical means and herbicides.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Common Crupina (Crupina vulgaris) is an erect, winter -summer growing annual, with more or less unbranched stems, known to grow 300 mm in Australia to 1 metre tall in the western United States. There are two types of very different leaves – The first are rosette oval-like entire leaves, followed by deeply divided stem leaves. The first leaves rosette leaves are whorled radiating from a central point, lay more or less flat on ground, up to 20–30 mm long,  c. 10–15 mm mm wide, spathulate (spoon-shaped; broad at the tip and narrowed towards the base) to oblanceolate (lance shaped, about 4 times as long as broad, broadest in the upper half at apex and tapering to the base) , very shallowly serrate (toothed), scabrous rough to the touch, with hispid (rough with stiff, bristly hairs) margins, soon withering by flowering time. The stem leaves are alternately arranged up the stem, pinnatisect (pinnately divided almost to midrib) with central linear (narrow) segments to 5 cm long, with narrowly linear segments,  to 10–15 mm long, with leaf decreasing in size up the stem, Leaves hispid (rough with stiff hairs), bristly hairs on the margins. Both the rosette leaves and stem leaves have short stiff hairs on leaf and margins. 

The flower heads solitary or in branched clusters at the apex of the stem. Flowers about 12 mm long are lavender to purple with each flower head having 3 to 8 florets which protrude from the end of an enveloping cylindrical whorl of green, glandular bracts (modified leaves). Bracts bracts lanceolate (lance shaped, about 4 times as long as broad, broadest in the lower half and tapering to the tip), acuminate ( tapering gradually to a point ), without any spines or bristles. Each floret produces a seed (achene). 

The fruits 'seeds' (achenes) are 3 to 4 mm long, 2–2.5 mm wide cylindrical and tapering to a blunt end.  The seed coat is covered with tiny hairs, giving the seeds a black to silvery beige appearance. The apex of the seed has dark, stiff, barbed hairs (a pappus) regularly radiating, 2–8 mm long (Jessop & Toelken 1986) .

For further information and assistance with identification of Common Crupina contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Purple or Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Common Crupina prefers dry slopes, grasslands, and pastures. Common Crupina is an adaptable weed and could occur in many areas with a Mediterranean climate (Scher undated).

Are there similar species?

No other weed species has the features mentioned in the description. Superficially, Common Crupina is thistle-like, but lacks the leaf-spines common on most Thistles (Jessop & Toelken 1986).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Common Crupina (Crupina vulgaris) is one of seventeen sleeper weeds identified by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (following consultation with the Australian Weeds Committee) which could have nationally significant impacts on agriculture if allowed to spread. In the western United States Common Crupina is described as an aggressive competitor because of its climate and soil adaptability, high reproductive rate and efficient dispersal. In the 22 years since it was first detected it has spread to and infested over 25 000 hectares, sometimes forming nearly solid stands that exclude desirable plants

Agriculture: Common Crupina could impact on grazing over significant areas of southern Australia. It invades rangeland, pastures, natural areas and waste places (Cunningham et al. 2004). Adapted to a wide range of soil and climate conditions, it can form solid stands, which decrease forage productivity and livestock carrying capacity. Although it is not toxic, livestock tend to avoid Common Crupina. The stem and leaf margins develop short, stiff hairs as the plant bolts. Therefore, it is only palatable to livestock in the rosette stage (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 1999).

Native ecosystems: It may also compete with native grassland plants (DPIW 2006) and succeed in other types of open native and degraded vegetation. In the western United States it forms dense populations that invade grasslands, forested areas, canyons, riparian areas that displace native plants, and impair plant communities by reducing biodiversity.

Urban areas: In the western United States it also forms dense populations on roadsides and waste areas.

How does it spread?

Common Crupina can produce large amounts of viable seed.  Typical seed production values have been estimated at 23 seeds/plant and 1000 seeds/m2.  An estimated 83% of plants reproduce successfully.  Estimates of seed germination rates are high, ranging from 85% to 99%. Common Crupina does not have a persistent soil seed bank; seeds survive in the soil for approximately 25–26 months after the last seed production.

Seeds are distributed by moving water, wildlife, and domestic livestock; they are too large to be wind-dispersed. Seeds can pass through cattle, deer, horses, and Chinese pheasant, but not sheep (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 1999).

What is its history in Australia?

Common Crupina was originally collected from the Hope Valley Reservoir, Adelaide, South Australia in 1936 (eFlora 2021) and occupied about 100 square metres. It may have been introduced many years prior to 1936, in packing material for the construction equipment used to build the dam. Up until recently, it was thought to infest up to 10 hectares on one site in Hope Valley Reservoir. However, field surveys of the Hope Valley Reservoir and surrounding aqueduct reserves in 2004, consultation with botanists familiar with the area and follow-up surveys in 2005 could not detect any infestations (Cunningham et. al. 2003; Cunningham et al. 2006).

More recently (in 1998), a single collection was made from Gammon Ranges National Park, 1.4 km direct ENE of Grindell Hut (eFlora 2021). Currently no further details are avalible regarding this collection. When the specimen is incorporated in to the South Australian State Herbarium main collection, it's identity can be confirmed ad any other data on frequency and population size accessed.

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Annual Common Crupina (Crupina vulgaris) can be controlled using mechanical, physical and herbicides. Whether using hand or herbicide treatments, follow up in subsequent years will be necessary to extend control beyond the soil seed dormancy period (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 1999). Plants should be removed every 3 to 4 weeks during the spring to ensure complete removal prior to seed maturity.

Chemical control: Standard herbicides are likely to be effective against Common Crupina. Please check the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Non-chemical control: Physical control: Since Common Crupina is an annual plant, hand-pulling or hoeing before flowering can be effective.  However, this method requires many visits to find all plants.

Mechanical control: Cultivation and tillage operations commonly used for annual cropping systems. It is easily pulled by hand, a method practical only for small infestations. for effective eradication, sites must be inspected for at least 3 years after the last year of seed production to ensure that no seeds or plants have escaped (Thill et al., 1999).

Competition and management: Prevent establishment via competition with pasture or crop plants as Common Crupina is not strongly competitive in situations where it is shaded by taller plants. Most livestock avoid grazing Common Crupina unless palatable forage is unavailable. However, it is highly favoured by sheep and goats in the Mediterranean region.

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Common Crupina is a true annual. After dispersal in mid-summer, seeds usually remain dormant until autumn rains and cool temperatures. Seedling recruitment through winter is dependent on temperature and moisture near the surface. The warmer temperatures and longer days of spring cause the plant to bolt. Plants generally flower during spring and disperse seed in summer (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 1999).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Common Crupina has only been recorded from two site in southern South Australia but may no longer persist there (Cunningham et al. 2006). It has the potential to spread over significant areas of southern Australia (Cunningham et al. 2003).

It is naturalised in other parts of the world and is a serious economic weed in Russia (Cunningham et al. 2003).

Where does it originate?

Common Crupina is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and adjacent areas of south-western Asia (Jessop & Toelken 1986).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Crupina vulgaris

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Centaurea crupina L.
  • Serratula crupina (L.) Vill.

Does it have other known common name(s)?

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