Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Yellow Soldier (Lachenalia reflexa) produces a large number of viable seeds that germinate each year, leading to rapid expansion of populations.
  • A number of species of Lachenalia are present in Australia, but Yellow Soldier is considered the most widespread and invasive.
  • Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective forms of weed control. Once established, Yellow Soldier is difficult to control so it is important to keep uninfested areas weed free.
  • Contact your state or territory weed management agency or local council if you find Yellow Soldier. Do not attempt control on your own.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Yellow Soldier (Lachenalia reflexa) has a bulb and two strap-shaped leaves, 60–350 mm long and 15–25 mm wide, which are spreading or ascending, and flat or slightly channelled in cross-section.

The greenish-yellow, slightly succulent flowers are borne in erect racemes. Each flower is about 25 mm long and more or less tubular in shape, but swollen in the middle; one of the outer segments is slightly longer than the others and is pouched at the apex. Large healthy plants can produce up to ten flowering spikes. Plants flower particularly well following fire and set prolific amounts of seed. The smooth, shiny black seeds are about 2 mm long (CRC 2003).

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

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Yellow Soldier grows in woodlands and heath, especially on calcareous, sandy soils. In Perth, it occurs on sandy or calcareous soils and is found invading Banksia/tuart woodlands, Banksia/jarrah woodlands, tuart woodlands and limestone scrub and heath (Brown et al. 2002).

Are there similar species?

In recent years a number of Lachenalia species have become naturalised in southern Australia. Lachenalia aloides has been recorded as a weed in lowland grassland and grassy woodland in Victoria, while Lachenalia aloides and Lachenalia bulbifera have been recorded as garden escapees in South Australia.

In southwestern Western Australia four species, Lachenalia aloides var. aurea, Lachenalia bulbifera, Lachenalia mutabilis and Lachenalia reflexa have all been recorded as weeds. Although these species are still very localised, they are spreading through woodlands in this region. The various species of Lachenalia are similar looking, although there is some variation in plant size and flower colour. L. aloides grows 50–310 mm high and has flowers in a range of colours including orange, red, yellow and greenish blue. L. bulbifera grows 80–300 mm high and has orange to red flowers, with darker red or brown markings and green tips. L. mutabilis is the largest of the four species, growing 100–450 mm high, with pale blue and white flowers with yellow tips, and only one leaf. Yellow Soldier (L. reflexa) is the smallest species (30–190 mm high) and has pure yellow flowers. Some species hybridise (CRC 2003).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Yellow Soldier is on the Alert List for Environmental Weeds, a list of 28 non native plants that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage. Although only in the early stages of establishment, these weeds have the potential to seriously degrade Australia's ecosystem.

Native ecosystems: Yellow Soldier could become a significant environmental problem because it replaces native herbs and annuals in both disturbed and relatively intact bushland. Apart from causing a loss of plant biodiversity, which destroys habitat and resources for native animals, infestations of Yellow Soldier can reduce the recreational enjoyment of bushland by people (CRC 2003).

How does it spread?

With only a single annually renewed bulb, Yellow Soldier spreads mainly by seed. There are usually between one and ten flowers per plant and each flower produces a capsule that contains 40–60 seeds, potentially giving rise to infestations of more than 400 bulbs per square metre. Experience in the Shenton bushland in Western Australia, where populations are quite discrete, suggests that seed is not easily spread over long distances.

Water movement and human activity are the main causes of seed spread. Yellow Soldier seeds often germinate in response to fire, taking advantage of any bare ground and the reduction in competition from native species. Plants have also been observed to produce a prolific number of bulbils (small bulbs) around the base of stems left lying on the soil surface, but this does not appear to be a common method of reproduction or dispersal (CRC 2003).

What is its history in Australia?

Yellow Soldier was first recorded as naturalised south of Perth, Western Australia in 1957, probably after escaping from a garden planting (CRC 2003).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Any new outbreaks of Yellow Soldier should be reported immediately to your state or territory weed management agency or local council. Do not try to control Yellow Soldier without their expert assistance. Control effort that is poorly performed or not followed up can actually help spread the weed and worsen the problem.

Non-chemical control: Physical control: In sandy soils Yellow Soldier bulbs can be removed by hand, particularly in late August to early September, by cutting the roots with a knife and pulling them out with the bulb. However, hand removal is difficult and time consuming and can cause major soil disturbance which may encourage other weeds. It is often impractical on a larger scale, especially given the high density at which these bulbous weeds often occur.

Fire is not recommended for control of Yellow Soldier, as it appears to be fire tolerant and regenerates soon after bushfire. Plants appear to flower particularly well following fire, setting prolific amounts of seed. In addition, fire reduces competition from native vegetation and creates bare areas where seed can germinate. However, fire can create opportunities for land managers to prevent further spread and establishment.

Chemical control: After fire, Yellow Soldier's flowers are clearly visible, and the reduced cover of native vegetation makes the resprouting flowering bulbs easy targets for herbicide control. Spot spraying reduces the cover of Yellow Soldier and appeared in one trial to have had insignificant effects on natives. The seed does not appear to remain viable in the soil for more than two or three years (CRC 2003).

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

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Yellow Soldier seeds germinate during spring and flower during the following winter and early spring. The above ground foliage dies off during summer (CRC 2003).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Yellow Soldier is a problem weed in tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) woodland, limestone scrub and heath and Banksia/jarrah woodland on the Swan Coastal Plain of Western Australia. It is the most widespread and invasive of the naturalised Lachenalia species in Australia. It is a serious weed at several conservation reserves around Perth (CRC 2003).

Where does it originate?

In its native range the genus Lachenalia extends mainly throughout western and southwestern Cape Province in South Africa, where it occurs in areas with winter rainfall, undergoing long dormant periods over the dry summers (CRC 2003).

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

Lachenalia reflexa

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Lachenalia, Cape Cowslip

Other Management Resources

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study