Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from Europe and Western Asia, Muskweed (Myagrum perfoliatum) is an erect annual herb,  up to 1 m tall, stems and leaves are hairless and bluish-green in colour to 100 mm long, with yellow flowers.
  • Produces many fruits are shaped like upside down pears (6–8 mm long, 5 mm wide) 
  • Has become a weed in Australia and other countries around the world.
  • It is a major crop weed in western Victoria and parts of South Australia and New South Wales.
  • Muskweed favours heavier textured soils and has not yet reached its potential distribution in Australia.
  • Muskweed can contaminate harvested grain crops as the fruits are of similar size to wheat and barley grains.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Muskweed (Myagrum perfoliatum) is an erect, annual herb, starting off as a basal (low growing) ground rosette (whorls leaves)and growing up to 1 m tall. The stems and leaves are hairless and bluish-green in colour. The lower basal rosette leaves and lower leaves are 90–100 mm long, with a leafstalk, oblanceolate (lance shaped, about 4 times as long as broad, broadest in the upper half, tapering to a narrow base)to sagittate (shaped like the head of an arrow, narrow and pointed but gradually enlarged at base by leaf stalk into two straight lobes which are directed downwards), pinnately lobed (with opposite leaf-lobes) with toothed margins either scalloped or toothed. The stem leaves are smaller, stalkless with bases clasping the stem, oblong-lanceolate (oblong: length a few times greater than width, with sides almost parallel and ends rounded) (lanceolate, about 4 times as long as broad, broadest in the lower half and tapering to the tip) do not have lobes but small teeth or smooth margins.

The yellow flowers are arranged in an Inflorescence of elongating raceme with many flowers. Petals are 3–5 mm long, with four yellow petals, green sepals about 3 mm long.

The fruits are  on a stalk about 2–4 mm long, fruit is club-shaped (shaped like upside down pears), 6–8 mm long, 5 mm wide, surface ridged and slightly warty.  Fruits have three chambers; the upper two chambers lack seeds, whereas the lower contains a single seed (occasionally 2). The seeds are small , about 3 mm long and are oval shaped (Hewson 1982; Entwisle 1996; VicFlora 2016).

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

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Muskweed favours temperate climates. It tolerates dry exposed sites and grows well on both light and heavy soils (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001), but is more often associated with heavier textured soils (Dellow et al. 2006). In New South Wales, it is a weed of cultivated cracking clay soils (Hosking et al. 2003).

Are there similar species?

In Australia, there are numerous weedy species that are difficult to distinguish from Muskweed. Examples include Sand Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia), Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis muralis), Wild Turnip (Brassica tournefortii), Indian Mustard (Brassica x juncea), Canola (Brassica x napus), Turnip Weed (Rapistrum rugosum), Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), Buchan Weed (Hirschfeldia incana), Charlock (Sinapis arvensis), Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Indian Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium orientale), London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio), African Turnip Weed (Sisymbrium thellungii) and Smooth Mustard (Sisymbrium erysimoides).

Various weed guides, including Richardson et al. (2007); Auld and Medd (1996); Hussey et al. (2007); Navie (2004) or the Herbarium in your state or territory should be consulted for further information on differentiating between these species.

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Muskweed (Myagrum perfoliatum) has been and still persists in some areas as a troublesome weed in crops, reducing yield, clogging machinery and contaminating seed (Hewson 1982; Storrie & Cook undated). It is also a weed of pastures, cultivated land and disturbed areas (Herbicide 2021), and is reported to occur in a variety of native variegation (Agriculture Victoria 2021).

Agriculture: Muskweed competes strongly with cereals and winter annual broad-leaf crops such as chickpeas, canola, lupins, faba beans, field peas and is particularly problematic in pulse crops, with yield losses of up to 50% being reported (Holding et al. 2006) in western Victoria and South Australia. It is also a contaminant reducing value and marketability of seed and hay, and may cause blockages of machinery during harvest (Government of South Australia 2021). It is a host to Plasmodiophora brassicae (Clubroot), a persistent and devastating disease of cruciferous (Brassicaceae) crops (Donald 2006). It has the potential to become a major and widespread weed species, particularly on the heavier textured soils of northern New South Wales and Queensland (Dellow et al. 2006). It is considered a major emerging weed problem in Victoria, especially on the heavier textured soils of the Wimmera region (Dellow et al. 2006). In Australia, it has probably not reached the limit of its spread (Storrie 2006).

Native ecosystems: It also invades some native vegetation types and in Victoria including woodlands, semiarid woodlands Mallee as listed in Agriculture Victoria (2021).

Urban areas: Not known from urbans areas, although could establish if transported on machinery or vehicles as this weeds responds to the types of disturbance common of urban areas and roadsides.

How does it spread?

Reproduction is by seeds that often remain in the fruit. These seeds are usually spread in contaminated agricultural produce, particularly in cereal grain (Navie 2004). Plants, when mature, can break at the base and tumble across paddocks releasing seed as they travel (Holding et al. 2006).

What is its history in Australia?

In Victoria, Muskweed first appeared as a weed in about 1900, and by 1915 large areas near Horsham and Dimboola were infested with the plant (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001), with the first herbarium collection made in Victoria in 1913 (AVH 2021).

In South Australia, it was recorded from the Eyre Peninsula in 1925 as a weed in pasture and from the Yorke Peninsula in 1926 as a roadside weed (eFlora 2021)). During this time it was regarded as a troublesome agricultural weed in both Victoria and South Australia but its importance declined in later years for unknown reasons (Entwisle 1996; Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). It has recently again become a problem weed in the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001) and in the Wimmera region of Victoria.

It was recorded from the Darling Downs region, in south-eastern Queensland in the 1950s and 1960s as a weed of various broad-leaf crops (Queensland Herbarium 2007), but it has not been recorded since.

In New South Wales, it was first recorded from the Botanic Gardens, Sydney in 1907 but was not regarded as a weed until 1999 when major infestations were recorded in the northern Tablelands growing amongst canola, wheat and lucerne crops (Storrie & Cook undated), with the first and only herbarium records from NSW from the year 2000 (AVH 2021).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Infestations of Muskweed (Myagrum perfoliatum) should be the target of integrated weed management as herbicide control options are limited. Various management tactics incorporate crop choice, farm hygiene and herbicide applications (Holding et al. 2006).

Chemical control:  Muskweed can be difficult and expensive to control once established in cropping land, where both an early post-emergent spray and late selective spray-topping may be necessary each year. In South Australia, there are few herbicides registered for cereals or fallows and it is tolerant to many herbicides commonly-used in these situations. There are no herbicide registrations for selective control in broad-leaf crops (Government of South Australia 2021).

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

Non-chemical control: Physical control: Not normally used but individual or small patches of young plants can be chipped out.

Mechanical control: Cultivation effectively controls seedlings but must be repeated regularly for several years. Crop infested areas after cultivation with late sown wheat, planted at a high rate, and use a pre emergent herbicide.

Competition and management: Graze pastures heavily in spring to reduce seed set. Shorter fallows, continuous cropping and broad-leaved crops in the rotation favour Muskweed.

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Seeds of Muskweed germinate in autumn and early winter. The plants grow throughout winter and develop flowering stems during spring. Plants die in summer, after the seeds have matured (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). The seed-bank of musk weed lasts up to 10 years with seed being found up to 40 cm deep in self-mulching soils. It has staggered germination throughout the growing season, allowing it to re-establish after early post-emergent herbicide treatments. The weed is easily recognised but late germinations may not be noticed in a standing crop (Government of South Australia 2021).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

In South Australia Muskweed has been recorded as a localised weed in the Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and Northern Lofty regions of South Australia. It continues to be a problem in parts of South Australia (Holding et al. 2006).

It has occurred in the Darling Downs region, south-east Queensland.

In Victoria, it has been recorded in the Wimmera, Riverina, and Murray Mallee regions. It continues to be a problem in the Wimmera district of Victoria (Holding et al. 2006).

It has most recently been recorded as a crop weed from the North Western Slopes of New South Wales.

Where does it originate?

Muskweed is native to Europe and western Asia (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; GRIN 2007).

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

Myagrum perfoliatum

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Musk-weed, Musk weed, Mitre-cress, Mitre Cress, Bird's Eye Cress, Bird's-eye Cress, Dog Mustard, Myagrum

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