Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from Europe and Asia, Cut-leaf Mignonette (Reseda lutea) is an annual to short lived herb 2080 cm high, with deep tap root, deeply dived leaves with many small pale yellow flowers in a narrow cylindrical flower-spikes 10–40 cm long.
  • A crop weed of some concern, mainly in South Australia, but generally not invasive in undisturbed native vegetation.
  • The principal concern is probably contamination and degradation of value of cereal grain.
  • It has 2 distinct growth phases – the initial rosette phase and erect, branched, flowering phase.
  • It dies down in late summer to the persistent rootstock and produces new rosettes in autumn.
  • Controlled by cultivation and repeated herbicide application.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Cut-leaf Mignonette (Reseda lutea) is a sprawling to upright perennial herb, 2080 cm high. Plants are hairless, but sometimes have minute wart-like outgrowths along stems. The initial leaves form a prostrate (growing flat on the ground) basal rosette, usually unlobed or with shallow toothed edges, to 7 cm long and 8 mm wide with a leaf-stem. Stem leaves are 5–12 cm long, commonly 3–7 narrow lobes. Lobe segments linear, 2–6 cm long 1–7 mm wide, sometimes with smaller secondary lobes.

Flowers are grouped in inflorescences or narrow cylindrical racemes mostly 10–25 (occasionally to 40) cm long. The racemes are at the top of the plant with a main flowering stem with branches with numerous flowers. The individual flowers occur on stalks 2–6 mm long, with an outer row of 6 greenish-yellow linear sepals 2–4 mm long that fall away, and an inner row of 5 slightly longer, broader, lobed yellow petals, commonly 5, 5–6 mm long, lobes variable, larger petals deeply 3-lobed, central lobe linear, lateral lobes broadly curved, other petals variously incised. Stamens mostly 14–18 per flower.

The fruits (capsules) are roughly egg-shaped, 8–13 mm long, obscurely 3-angled and 3-toothed at the tip. There are mostly 20–30 brown and shining seeds per capsule, each about 1.5 mm long (Entwisle 1996; VicFlora 2016; PlantNET 2021).

For further information and assistance with identification of Cut-leaf Mignonette contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Cut-leaf Mignonette occurs in disturbed sites and croplands in southern Australia, with an apparent preference for calcium-rich soils, but will tolerate a wide range of soil types, even slightly saline conditions.  Cut-leaf Mignonette grows in areas receiving between 225 mm and 625 mm of rainfall annually, surviving droughts and the levels of frost found in South Australia. It is able to grow on a range of soil types from deep sands to mallee clay loams and is well adapted to calcareous soils with a pH of 8 or higher. It is rare in cooler (e.g. mountainous) areas within its range in Australia (Parsons & Cuthbertson, 1992; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007; Government of South Australia 2021). 

Are there similar species?

Cut-leaf Mignonette is most likely confused with other Reseda species in Australia (R. luteola, R. phyteuma, R odorata) but differs from all of these in its deeply multilobed leaves. The leaves of Sweet Mignonette (R. odorata) and Rampion Mignonette (R. phyteuma) may have one or 2 lobes while the leaves of Wild Mignonette (R. luteola) are undivided. Wild Mignonette and Rampion Mignonette are both naturalised in southern Australia (the former a serious weed), while Sweet Mignonette is sometimes grown as a cottage garden plant for its scented flowers (Entwisle 1996; Walsh 2007 pers. comm.).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Cut-leaf Mignonette is a weed of agricultural areas in crops, degraded pastures, also on roadsides and disturbed and degraded areas especially in sandy poor soil, found in fire breaks, fallows, roadsides, riverbanks and disturbed land. They may compete strongly in poorly managed areas, however they are rarely significant weeds of well-managed gardens, crops or pastures.

Agriculture: Cut-leaf Mignonette contaminates produce (both foliage and seed crops) and competes with field crops for light and nutrients.  A weed of cereals, vegetables, seedling lucerne, potatoes, sugar beet, carrots, pastures, fire breaks, fallows, roadsides, riverbanks and disturbed land. It also has the potential to cause major losses in vegetable crops (particularly beet, potato and carrots in Europe) as well as hosting vegetable pests and diseases such as Cucumber Mosaic Virus and Cabbage Root Fly (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; Animal and Plant Control Commission of SA 2002). In Australia its greatest potential impact appears to be in cereal crops (Walsh 2007, pers. comm.). Cut-leaf Mignonette is an effective competitor in cereal crops, and can severely reduce yields and the cost of control is expensive. A heavy infestation in a cereal crop can reduce yield by up to 60%. It has been estimated that the cost to the South Australian grains industry due to Cut-leaf Mignonette infestations is approximately $2.2 million per annum. The seed is an unwanted contaminant of broad acre crops and hard to clean from harvested grain. Crops contaminated with Cut-leaf Mignonette can be downgraded in quality resulting in economic losses. Cut-leaf Mignonette is of some use as fodder on land that is too poor for sown pastures to be economically viable. However, it is unpalatable and is only grazed when no other feed is available Government of South Australia (2021).

Native ecosystems: Can invade sandy coastal vegetation and roadside reserves. 

How does it spread?

Reproduction and spread is via seed and perennial rootstock. The seed of Cut-leaf Mignonette is easily spread by stock, contaminated produce (especially grain and hay) and vehicles (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). Digestion of the seed by stock reduces germination capability but enough seed survives to start new populations. Under suitable conditions, cultivation can spread it across paddocks as root fragments. The oil bodies on the seeds are also attractive to ants which can shift seeds small distances (Heap et al. 1987; Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; Animal & Plant Control Commission of SA 2002).

What is its history in Australia?

Details of the history of Cut-leaf Mignonette to Australia are unknown. It was probably introduced by accident with wheat or other cereal seed (Walsh 2007, pers. comm.). THe first collections from Australia are from Tasmaina in 1875 from Banks of the Derwent [River], Hobart Town. It was first collected from New South Wales in 1902; from South Australia in 1913; from Victoria in 1923; Queensland from 1954; Western Australia 1979 (AVH 2021). 

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Cut-leaf Mignonette can be controlled by cultivation, herbicides. Sowing competitive pasture species generally give good levels of control. Heavy grazing kills seedlings. Hormone herbicides are effective on young plants ( Slashing and mowing are not very effective because the plant re-shoots from the base (Herbiguide 2021).

Non-chemical control: Small infestations of Cut-leaf Mignonette may be hand-pulled, but larger infestations may be controlled by cultivation at the rosette stage, with follow-up treatments as new seedlings establish so that the soil seed-bank is exhausted (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). Grazing and mowing are not successful in controlling this weed because it can regrow from the deep root system (Government of South Australia 2021). 

Chemical control: Rosette-stage plants are susceptible some herbicides but mature plants can show resistance. Older plants can be sprayed with selected herbicides in non-crop areas (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). Some chemical control methods are available for cereal crops and pastures. Shoots of cut-leaf Mignonette are easily killed, but translocation of herbicides through the root system is limited and regrowth from the roots occurs. In heavily infested paddocks, the best available herbicide treatments only suppress the weed and yield reduction occurs until the infestation is controlled by repeated spraying (Government of South Australia 2021).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Biological control: Cut-leaf Mignonette has also been recognised as a target for biological control through a cross-jurisdictional government process. This allows activities to be undertaken to develop effective biological controls. Recent research suggests that four of its European leaf-damaging pathogens were unlikely to be successful in South Australia (Giles et al. 2002). No effective biological controls options are available in Australia

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Most germination of Cut-leaf Mignonette occurs at the autumn break, and a leaf rosette is then formed before winter, but some germination occurs during spring. Autumn-germinated plants produce erect stems in spring, with the rosette leaves withering as the flowering stems emerge in spring. Flowering is mainly from September through to January, and first fruits usually appear in November. Spring-germinated plants may not flower until the following year. Flower stems mostly wither in late summer and new rosettes are produced from the rootstock in autumn (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Cut-leaf Mignonette is scattered in Western Australia from near Wubin (about 200 km NW of Perth) to Albany. 

It is common in south-eastern South Australia. It is uncommon in Victoria, but may be more widespread there than records indicate. 

It is an uncommon weed of the Darling Downs in Queensland. 

In New South Wales it is moderately common from near the Queensland border to near Dubbo, mostly inland of the Dividing Range, and near the Murray River. 

It is common through the grain growing and coastal areas of southern South Australia from the South East across to Adelaide, York peninsula and the mid north and along part of the Murray River, and on western Eyre peninsula from west of Ceduna to north of Elliston, and west of Cleve, with some outlier records from semi arid areas (AVH 2021).

It is scattered but uncommon in Tasmania, recorded from Flinders Island and near Hobart (Stanley & Ross 1983; Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; Entwisle 1996; AVH 2007; Florabase 2007; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007; AVH 2021).

It is also naturalised in America and Asia (Entwistle 1996).

Where does it originate?

Cut-leaf Mignonette is native from southern Scandinavia and Siberia to the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

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

Reseda lutea

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Cut-leaved Mignonette, Wild Mignonette, Yellow Mignonette

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